Bryant Station Camelback Bridge

Milam County

County Road 275 at the Little River, Bucholts vincinity, Milam County.

 

History

Meandering dirt roads lead to this impressive camelback truss bridge near the old Bryant Station trading post in northwestern Milam County. The Chicago Bridge and Iron Company erected the willowy 200-foot span in 1909.

View a HAER drawing of Bryant Station Camelback Bridge.

Location: Spanning Little River at County Route 275, Bucholts vincinity, Milam County, Texas.
Date of Construction: 1909
Designer: Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, Chicago, Illinois.
Builder: C.Q. Horton,Austin, Texas, agent for Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.
Present Owner: Milam County.
Present Use: Vehicular bridge.

Historical Significance:

The Bryant Station Bridge was built across Little River in 1909. The bridge was fabricated by the prolific Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, a merger of independent bridge builders Horace E. Horton of Rochester, Minnesota, George E. King of Des Moines, Iowa, and the Kansas City Bridge and Iron Company of Rosedale, Kansas. C.Q. Horton, a southern agent for the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company based in Austin, Texas, was awarded the $5980.00 contract.

Bryant Station Bridge is named after a U.S. Army station established to keep Native American tribes out of the Republic of Texas capital at Washington-on-the-Brazos. At the order of Sam Houston, president of the Republic, Benjamin F. Bryant set up the station in 1840. On about three thousand acres, he built a log cabin and fort on the north side of the Little River. A village developed around Bryan Station and it became an important stagecoach stop on the route to Austin.

The bridge's camelback design is a variant on the Pratt truss. The Pratt truss, typically used for spans from 125'-0" to 250'-", was the inconspicuous truss of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Pratt trusses are divided into rectangular panels each crossed by two diagonals. The Camelback Truss replaced the Pratt's design's horizontal top chord with a polygonal top chord and increased the truss' strength.

The Bryant Station Bridge consists of one camelback through truss of 200'-0" span, both ends of which are supported on pairs of cylindrical concrete columns. Approach spans supported on I-beam bents bring the structure's total length to 343'-0". From a distance it seems as if the verticals of the bridge are of unequal length, although closer inspection reveals that the deck is built on a slope. The banks at each end of the bridge are not of equal height. To account for this, the 15 1/4"-deep deck beams are bolted to double-angle brackets that are riveted to the verticals at varying distances above the lower chord. As a result, the deck gently slopes to match the abutments. For some site-specific circumstances, such as banks of unequal height, Horton's modification of a standard truss to fit its site makes the bridge an artifact showing compromises and choices made in the built environment in 1909. The Bryant Station Bridge is one of two surviving bridges employing a single span pin-connected camelback through truss in Texas and one of five employing a camelback through truss.

 

© 2003 Historic Bridge Foundation. Photo by Barbara Stocklin, Texas Department of Transportation.