The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 55
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Notes and Documents
was the one and only bridge across the meandering Brazos from one
end to the other, and it was soon proven a great success. Its importance
to Waco was incalculable.
For several years emigrant families from the war-ravaged states to
the eastward, heeding the advice of editor Horace Greeley, had been
going West in a growing stream. The Brazos had long been an impos-
ing obstacle to this traffic. There were the rocky shoals near Marlin,
and Captain Shapley Ross had operated a primitive ferry at Waco
since 1849," but the river was notoriously subject to sudden rises which
effectually shut off movement for days, occasionally even weeks, at a
time. The amazing new bridge alleviated all this, and as the news
spread, Waco found itself the very hub of this vast migration move-
ment. Provisions of all kinds required replenishing, vehicles, harness,
and saddles needed repairs or replacements, and fresh horses, mules,
and cattle were in demand. Wholesale houses and manufacturing
establishments built up rapidly, and fortunes were in the making.
When the famed cattle trail era opened up, Waco lay directly in the
path of one of the principal routes. Here again the Brazos had posed
major problems, with its quicksands and jump-offs, as well as its fre-
quent high rises. Accordingly, the new Waco bridge enjoyed a tremen-
dous patronage from the drovers at the quite reasonable fee of five
cents per head "for each loose animal of the cattle kind." This wind-
fall proved a substantial factor in relieving the bridge's original bur-
den of debt and putting it upon the road to profit.' In 1889, mainly
because of citizen outcry, the bridge was acquired by purchase by
McLennan County, and promptly thrown open for toll-free trans-
portation, accompanied by another large celebration by the public."
Less than two years after the erection of the bridge, Waco's first rail-
road built in from Bremond. Connected to the Houston & Texas
Central at that point, it had been chartered as the Waco & North-
western-but more frequently was called the "Waco Tap." Its snug
little passenger and freight station was built within a spacious tract
on the east side of the river. The resultant bustle of business and
residential development near the station brought about the formal
8W. M. Sleeper and Allan D. Sanford, Waco Bar and Incidents of Waco History
(Waco, 1941), 13-14-
'Wayne Gard, The Chisholm Trail (Norman, 1954), 78; Official Records, The Waco
Bridge Co.; Conger, "The Waco Suspension Bridge," 195-196.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101201/m1/67/: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.