Thursday, July 9, 2009
Beaver Bridge marks important Civil War crossing site
Sometimes called the "Little Golden Gate" of Arkansas because of its similarity to its better known California cousin, the historic Beaver Bridge over the White River marks the site of an important crossing in use long before the Civil War.
The existing bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the last suspension bridge of its type in Arkansas. Built in 1949, it is located on Arkansas Highway 187 about 6.6 miles northwest of Eureka Springs. Only wide enough for traffic to move in one direction at a time, the bridge still has wooden floors and rails.
The little community of Beaver, which overlooks the bridge, has fewer than 100 residents but is picturesque and extremely rich in Arkansas history. It was one of the settings for the made for television epic, The Blue and the Gray.
Beaver gained its unique name in 1850 when Wilson A. Beaver moved his family there from Tennessee. He operated a ferry, mill, inn and other establishments for many years. The crossing, in fact, had numerous brushes with American history.
In 1857, for example, the Fancher wagon train crossed the White River here on its way from Arkansas to what its members thought would be prosperous new lives in California. Instead, they were brutally murdered in Utah at what became known as the Mountain Meadow Massacre.
In 1862, local tradition holds that General Sterling Price stopped at the Beaver home following the disastrous Confederate defeat at the Battle of Pea Ridge. Both Union and Confederate forces passed back and forth through the area for the rest of the war, as did the notorious guerrilla gangs that hid out deep in the Ozarks.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/beaverbridge.