Stephen F. Austin State University

The Historic Deweyville Swing Bridge (October 2014)

The Historic Deweyville Swing Bridge
By Jonnie Miller

This is a National and State Historic Site. Built by Forcum-James between 1936 and 1938, it was to replace an existing ferry and connect Texas Highway 235 and Louisiana State Highway 7. This route has now become Highway 12 for both states and is often called the Evangeline Highway. It runs between Deweyville, Texas and Starks, Louisiana.

The bridge is three hundred and twenty-seven feet overall in length with a 160 foot long central swing span with a swinging radius of 82 feet. The roadway is 24 feet wide and rises 44 feet above the water. On each side of the center pier, there is a sixty foot horizontal clearance. The center span (span number 3 of 5) of the bridge is a cantilevered, center-bearing, swing span. Each approach is composed of two simple spans of reinforced concrete girders. The deck of the bridge is concrete and the sidewalks are cantilevered with a standard Type C concrete railing terminating at a short section of concrete wall located at each end.

No significant changes have been made to the Deweyville Swing Bridge since its construction. Because the bridge was not regularly used for water traffic in the 1950 and 1960s, it was last opened in 1995. This was the result of the construction of a commercial boat upstream from the bridge, requiring the opening of the bridge in order to get the boat out to the gulf. It was reported to have taken three days to open the bridge.

In June of 2011, the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places under the name Deweyville-Stark Swing Bridge and is also recognized as part of the Good Roads Movement that began in 1880. It is the oldest of the existing swing bridges in the State of Texas according to the National Park Service. It was a work-relief construction project during the Great Depression. Texas has only three historic, road swing bridges which means they are over 50 years old.

Earlier this year the Louisiana Highway Dept. proposed tearing down the bridge to build a new bridge over the Sabine River. However, because of its status as a National Historic Place, they are meeting stiff resistance from Deweyville and Newton County residents to preserve the old bridge. Other alternatives are also being considered such as building another bridge beside it.