Cove Creek Tributary Bridge
The Cove Creek Tributary Bridge is a filled-spandrel cut-stone masonry arch bridge crossing a tributary of Cove Creek on Arkansas Highway 309 about 8.5 miles southeast of Paris (Logan County). It was built in 1936 under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief agency, as part of a project to develop Mount Magazine.
In 1935, the U.S. Resettlement Administration (USRA) acquired 110,000 acres on Mount Magazine in an effort to relocate farmers from the poor land available on the mountain and to develop the mountain for other uses. By 1935, the project was designated as the “Magazine Mountain Forestry, grazing, game and recreational project” in WPA records, and an effort began to improve the road from Paris and Havana (Yell County) to the mountain.
The WPA built the Cove Creek Tributary Bridge as part of WPA Project No. 165-63-1644, and H. C. Schebke designed the structure.
Completed in 1936, the Cove Creek Tributary Bridge is twenty-three feet long with a twenty-nine-foot-wide concrete deck travel surface covered with asphalt in a thirty-two-foot-wide roadbed. It is supported by two stone masonry barrel-vaulted arches, each eleven feet wide. A concrete date stone located in the east spandrel wall is engraved with “USRA 1936.” A solid concrete barrier with a steel guard rail was added to both sides of the deck at some time after the bridge’s construction.
“In the 1930s, reinforced concrete was the material of choice for bridges,” historian Lola Bennett observed in a report for the Historic American Engineering Record. “This was particularly true during the New Deal era, when hand-built public works projects integrated modern technology with native materials, to create permanent structures that were both functional and beautiful.”
Construction of the road later designated as Highway 309 and its associated bridges was an important part of the $1,578,000 project to develop Mount Magazine as a recreational site. The project, which ultimately involved around 2,500 WPA and USRA workers under the direction of V. D. Hill of Paris, was effectively completed in 1938 with construction of the Cove Lake Spillway Dam/Bridge.
The Cove Creek Tributary Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 1995.
For additional information:
Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, Arkansas Historic Bridge Inventory Review and Evaluation, Vol. II, 1996.
Bennett, Lola. “Historic American Engineering Record Cove Creek Tributary Bridge HAER No. AR-75.” Arkansas Department of Transportation.
Story, Ken. “Cove Creek Tributary Bridge.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/LO0051.nr.pdf (accessed December 21, 2020).
WPA Central Office Files, 1935–1937, Arkansas (Johnson-Yell Cos.). Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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