aka: Nimrod Bridge
Constructed in 1908, the Wallace Bridge was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as the best example of a Camelback through truss bridge in the Nimrod (Perry County) vicinity. The bridge was also nominated for its associations with the development of vehicular transportation in Perry County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 1, 2008, it is the last remaining example of this type of bridge in Perry County and one of only three remaining in Arkansas.
It is unknown if there was a prior bridge at the current location of the Wallace Bridge. A loss of county records prevents a detailed understanding of the historical locations and types of bridges in Perry County, but at least one source notes that the first bridge built over the Fourche La Fave River was not constructed until 1902 at Perryville (Perry County). Though there is some agricultural land at the foot of the Fourche Mountains division of the Ouachita Mountains to the south of the Wallace Bridge—and the road to the east connected with the historic town of Deberrie (Perry County), which was the site of an antebellum gristmill and sawmill—it is unlikely that there was a bridge at this location prior to the construction of the Wallace Bridge.
In order to maintain the dirt roadways as they were constructed, the Arkansas General Assembly passed an act that allowed for the formation of local road improvement districts. Charles T. Wallace, one of several doctors practicing in the area around Nimrod, was appointed a commissioner in 1905, along with J. N. Stone and Asa Wright, to build a bridge over the Fourche La Fave River in the western part of Perry County.
The bridge at Gill Ford, built 1906, was the first of the bridges built by these commissioners. Subsequently, the commissioners chose several other locations for the construction of bridges. Because two locations were considered to be over navigable portions of the river, permission for a bridge was necessary from the Arkansas legislature. Permission for construction of the bridges was granted in 1907 and in 1908; the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company was selected to build bridges over the Fourche La Fave at Fourche (Perry County), Houston (Perry County), Aplin (Perry County), and Nimrod. The Southwestern Bridge Company of Joplin, Missouri, completed the work on the Wallace Bridge in 1908 at a cost of approximately $10,000.
The Wallace Bridge provided access to the businesses at Nimrod for the area’s loggers and their families. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Nimrod was the nearest post office to many of the area logging camps and was home to several stores and services.
On January 22, 2009, the Wallace Bridge partially collapsed when an overloaded truck drove over the bridge, causing the deck to fail. Perry County officials obtained federal Transportation Enhancement funds to help in the preservation and restoration of the Wallace Bridge. The bridge repairs were completed on May 7, 2010, at a cost of nearly $220,000.
For additional information:
Herndon, Dallas T., ed. Annals of Arkansas. Vol. 2. Little Rock, AR: The Historical Record Association, 1947.
“Wallace Bridge.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program,Little Rock,Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PE0090.nr.pdf (accessed June 9, 2015).
Travis A. Ratermann
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Last Updated: 08/17/2016