Possum Kingdom Masonry Arch

Palo Pinto County

State Route 16 at the Brazos River, vicinity of Graford, Texas

History

Eighteen stone arches ripple across the Brazos river a mile below Morris Sheppard Dam in Palo Pinto County in the vicinity of Graford, Texas on State Route 16. Local manpower and materials created this magnificent, rustic structure during the country's Great Depression.
Historical Significance:

The Possum Kingdom Stone Arch Bridge is the longest is and most substantial masonry arch bridge in Texas. State highway engineers chose the heavy masonry form to withstand flood waters released from the Morris Sheppard Dam one mile upstream. The bridge features fine craftsmanship and is argued to be one of the best examples of WPA road work in Texas. Many of the WPA laborers were unemployed coal miners who had acquired their stonecutting skills underground. The bridge includes eighteen spands of locally quarried limestone varying in length from twenty-three to thirty feet. All piers are founded on bedrock; most are 3 ft. wide, although piers seven and thirteen are heavier "bracing piers," tapering to 5 ft. width at the top. The structure's total length is 433 ft. and 4 in. Despite having been overtopped by floods, the bridge remains in virtually unaltered condition.

Location: State Route 16 near Graford, Texas.
Date of Construction: 1940-1942.
Designer: Texas State Highway Department.
Builder: Works Progress Administration (WPA).
Present Owner: Texas Department of Transportation.

 

© 2003 Historic Bridge Foundation. Photograph by Texas Department of Transportation.