Interurban Bridge Missed By Wacoan
To the Editor:
I miss the old Interurban Bridge recently razed. To the aesthetically minded, and those who wish to set the old Suspension Bridge off in an environment where it can be viewed without encumbrance, I must surely sound like a nut. I am sure that the only persons who feel as I do about the old interurban bridge are railroad enthusiasts, as I am.
The teenager of today, who has not seen one of the big red cars, scurrying across the landscape carrying happy people, swiftly, safely, frequently and with a dash and elan never before or after achieved, has missed one of the most dramatic sights in the realm of transportation.
Now, so few artifacts of that glamorous era are left, and only an occasional glimpse of an embankment, a bridge abutment, an occasional substation or depot or terminal building are left to remind us of a far-flung transportation system that was born and bred out of necessity and for about 50 years served faithfully its particular mission.
Due to muddy roads, unreliability of early automobiles, and infrequent passenger train schedules, the interurban was born to carry persons swiftly and safely to their destinations.
Basically the interurban connected urban centers of population, but served more the needs of the rural areas, and stops were made almost anywhere in between.
One of the reasons for the success of the Interurban was its swift acceleration, and rapid deceleration. They could go from zero to 50 miles an hour in the the matter of seconds, and could stop within a distance a third of that of a standard passenger train. This meant a faster running time than that of any form of transportation, including the more numerous stops enroute.
The death knell of the interurban came because of better roads, improved automobiles, and buses, and when they did close down, it was strictly because of fiscal reasons, no longer being profitable.
Only one interurban system that started as such is now in existence, as far as I know, and is the Chicago South Shore and South Bend, but it seems to exist now as an electric railroad carrying freight and passengers. Interurbans pretty well covered the entire U.S.A., but the highest concentration of lines was in the Midwest in the states of Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.
Interurbans per se have gone, but it will be many years before a more useful and gallant system of transportation comes along.
Geoffrey S. Dawson
The Waco Tribune Herald, November 7, 1975
NOTE: Construction of the Interurban Bridge in Waco, which was next to the Suspension Bridge, was completed in 1913. When the Interurban ceased operation on December 31, 1948, a new deck was put on the bridge for automobile traffic. Both the Interurban Bridge and the Suspension Bridge were closed in 1973 when the Franklin Avenue Bridge was opened. In 1974, many considered it an eyesore and city fathers decided to demolish it as a part of preparing the town to celebrate the 1976 Bicentennial. The demolition of the Interurban Bridge, which began July 15, 1974, was seen as the first step in restoring the Suspension Bridge for the Bicentennial. Demolition of the bridge, which started in November, 1974, was completed in September, 1975. Today, all that remain are the concrete pylons rising up out of the Brazos River. (Dates confirmed by historic newspaper articles.-Randall Scott)
This article was written by Geoffrey S. Dawson, contributed by Mike Braun, and transcribed by Randall Scott.