Depression era Swing Bridge to be recognized
The Newton County Historical Commission and the Newton County Commissioners will hold a dedication service for the Deweyville Swing Bridge of the Official National Register of Historic Places Plaque. The service will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 at State Highway 12 on the Sabine River in Deweyville. Refreshments are to follow.
Ed Gallagher, a member of the Newton County Historical Commission, said they have been trying for seven years to get the designation. The hold up in the process was having to rewrite Texas and Louisiana history and wait for approval from the National Park Service.
“I guess they have a different criteria [the Texas and Louisiana Historical Commissions]. It took two years to approve it. They only meet once or twice a year,” he said.
Several dignitaries will make speeches, a band will be playing and the marker will be unveiled at the event.
“The bridge will be in real good condition. It’s used every day,” Gallagher said. “It was unnavigable by the Coast Guard and closed to water traffic in 1995. It’s one of the last historical swing bridges left.”
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. It joins its sister bridge, the Cow Bayou Swing Bridge on Highway 87 in Bridge City on the national register.
Gallagher said in a prior Record article Newton County only has three things on the national register and the bridge was an important project for them.
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 Sept. 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.
Adrienne Campbell of the Texas Historical Commission said the dispute between Texas and Louisiana opened a new can of worms as the historical commission had to prove the historical significance of the bridge to both states.
“[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, 2011, 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 Hwy. 12, the contractors would have to conduct a study, for alternatives to just tearing the bridge down, under the National Historic Preservation Act.”