More Memories of Alden Bridge
- By Ann Middleton
In his column called "Looking Backward" for the April 17, 1975 issue of The Bossier Banner-Progress, John A. Manry told the story of how Alden Bridge went from a busy, thriving community to a ghost town at the time of Manry's 1975 account.
Philo Alden, a sheriff in Bossier Parish during the Civil War, settled in Alden Bridge in 1843, the year that Bossier Parish was formed. The location was described as being a place near Red River about 25 miles above Shreveport which was itself only a small steamboat landing. The place was a hunter's paradise teeming with deer, bear, wolves and alligators. Philo Alden's son, George Richard Alden, wrote years later that the fishing was also incredible.
George Richard Alden also wrote the following about the pioneer settlement of Alden Bridge: "Father (Philo Alden) built a saw-mill on Cypress Creek, so called because of the enormous growth of Cypress timber there, and in and about the old mill I passed my happiest days. We ran the mill night and day, and could cut about 2,000 feet of lumber in 24 hours. This made us a good living, which was all the old pioneers seemed to want in those days. This continued until 1850, when father went to California, which was an unfortunate venture for his family. I was left at the head of affairs until his return, when he had to go to work again at his trade. He was a master workman, and I soon learned under his instruction to be a good carpenter. We worked together until 1856, when I had an offer to take charge of all the carpenters on the several Pickett [James Belton Pickett] plantations on the Red River, in which occupation I remained until 1861."
In April of 1969 The Bossier Banner-Progress published an article titled "How Parish Towns Got Their Names." One reader, Willie Lee Keith, responded the following week with his memories of Alden Bridge. He had moved to Alden Bridge when he was 10 years old and remembered that the large sawmill (obviously not the one built by Philo Alden) was built around 1895. He went on to say "It may be interesting to point out where the bridge at Alden Bridge was then and where it still remains to this day . If you are traveling north towards Plain Dealing from Benton turn East at Swindleville and go over the railroad tract and the bridge is about 50 yards from the rail road track. That track lying East of the Bridge was known as Alden Place and in my opinion the Aldens didn't build the bridge but I feel that the Bridge was definitely named after the Alden family."
In the days when Alden Bridge prospered, sawmills followed the policy of "cut out and get out," and that is what had happened to Alden Bridge when, by around 1912, the timber supply was exhausted. The area was still referred to as the "Alden Bridge Community" in 1990 when The Shreveport Times reported in its June 6, 1990 issue that the community would be getting its first gas meter.
For more interesting stories about Bossier Parish villages and communities, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.