Deweyville swing bridge nomination also successful

She is an electric powered World War II era swing bridge crossing Cow Bayou on Texas 87. Christened the Cow Bayou Bridge in 1941 dedication ceremonies, she was an engineering marvel of the time. She mothered a community and was a routine part of life for more than three decades in early Bridge City.

But the often overlooked and once endangered Cow Bayou Bridge will soon be recognized as one of the state’s most treasured bridges – Bridge City among the list of historic places.

The Texas Historic Commission State Board of Review voted unanimously Saturday to forward the nomination of the Cow Bayou Bridge to Washington, D.C., where the National Park Service will finalize the process of naming it to the National Register of Historic Places.

“The 1940 Cow Bayou Swing Bridge is significant as one of two remaining central pivot swing bridges in the State of Texas,” THC presenter Adrienne Campbell told the review board during the quarterly meeting held at the historic Galveston 1861 Custom House.

The other bridge, the Texas 12 swing bridge over the Sabine River at Deweyville in Newton County was also successfully nominated to the National Register.

Once formalized, both of Bridge City’s namesake bridges will be included on the National Register. The 1938 Rainbow Bridge crossing the Neches River on Texas 87 South was listed in 1996. It is a Jefferson County listing, however, Groves rather than Bridge City, is shown as a nearby location.

The Cow Bayou Bridge will become the seventh historic property in Orange County listed in the National Register. The remaining six are in Orange. In Jefferson County 20 such properties are on the National Register.

“This is a rubber stamp,” said Houston-based historic preservation specialist Anna Mod, “We have passed the largest hurdle – and the Washington review is the rest of the process. From here it can be included on the National Register within about 45 days to 6 months.”

The Cow Bayou Bridge became eligible for listing in 1990. Mod was hired by a group of Bridge City citizens to research and submit the nomination to the THC. Last week, Orange County Commissioners voted to assist the citizens in the almost three year project through funds available for historic preservation.

Although the presentation included rare photographs, maps, diagrams and 30 pages of detailed documentation, the State Review Board found favor with a more recent photograph from 2007. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Bridge City High School, the Cardinal Strutter dance and drill team posed in Texas style regalia on the landmark bridge. Board of Review Chairperson Brooke Sween-McGloin of Corpus Christi instructed that the photo become part of the state archive.

Mark Dunn and Beverly Perry, co-chairpersons for the now disbanded Bridge City Citizens for Historic Preservation, also spoke before the review board. Several letters of endorsement went along with the nomination.

“I see this as something that will foster more history related projects in your area,” Sween-McGloin told the Bridge City citizens.

Dunn, also a board member for the Orange County Historical Commission, stated that the Bridge City Historical Museum has submitted the application for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and planned to become more active in attaining funding for historic preservation and educational projects. 

“We have identified at least a dozen sites in the Bridge City and Orangefield areas that qualify for historic markers,” Dunn said. 

The Deweyville swing bridge is the oldest swing bridge in the state, according to Record archives. Construction started in 1936, and the bridge opened in ‘38. Ed Gallagher of the Newton County Historical Commission made the nomination.

Among the nominees to the National Register in Galveston Saturday was Parkland Hospital, Dallas; Heritage Plaza, Oakhurst Historic District and South Main Street Historic District – all in Fort Worth, Settlement Historic District, Texas City, the Alden B. Dow office in Lake Jackson and the McMillen Apartment building in Amarillo.

Each year the THC’s team of architects, archeologists and historians reviews more than 13,000 projects. 

The State Board of Review is a citizen committee of experts in the fields of Texas architecture, history, archeology and related disciplines. In public meetings, the board assesses each nominated property according to the National Register criteria for evaluation.