DEWEYVILLE — Ed Gallagher’s seven-year project has finally come to fruition, as the swing bridge crossing the Sabine River into Louisiana on State Highway 12 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 8.

Gallagher, a member of the Newton County History Commission, said that he has been working to get the bridge on the register since 2004.

“That was when I started getting all the stuff together,” he said. “Newton County only has three things on the national register, so this was a pretty important project for us.”

The Deweyville Swing Bridge is the oldest of the existing swing bridges in the State of Texas, according to the National Park Service. It was constructed in 1938 as a work-relief construction project during the Great Depression.

On Nov. 12, 2007, Gallagher received confirmation, of the bridge being eligible for the national register, from both the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Historical Commission.

In September of 2008, Gallagher sent nomination information to the commission. A year later, on Sept. 19, 2009, the commission’s state review board approved the request.
The holdup for the national register now came from across the river.

“The State of Louisiana was the hold up, as we had to rewrite everything for them as the bridge connects Texas and Louisiana,” Gallagher said.

This opened a new can of worms, as the historical commission had to prove the historical significance of the bridge to Louisiana as well as Texas, Texas Historical Commission historian Adrienne Campbell said.

“(The bridge) was a significant resource for Texas,” Campbell said. “Texas only has three historic, road swing bridges — which means that they are over 50 years old. Louisiana, which has many more navigable waterways, has a lot of swing bridges which makes them very common.”

After the rewriting and resubmitting of the bridge information, the Louisiana National Register Review Committee approved the request on April 7, which led to the bridge finally being placed on the national register earlier this month.

“It is just an honorary kind of thing,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t generally provide protection from new construction projects. But, for instance, if a road widening project were to take place on State Highway 12, the contractors would have to conduct a study, for alternatives to just tearing the bridge down, under the National Historic Preservation Act.”

The Deweyville Swing Bridge joins its sister bridge, the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge on Hwy. 87 in Bridge City on the National Register of Historic Places.

About Greg Hayes