On several social media posts, for some years an item has circulated about remembering places and events in Waco. Here is one such document. The last item is about remembering the old bridge at Eichelberger Crossing near China Spring. This document, apparently put together by a Waco High School reunion, calls it “Eichelberger’s Crossing.” However, I believe it correctly is known as Eichelberger Crossing. The bridge was a metal span that crossed the South Bosque River. Filling in the metal span were wooden planks on which cars crossed for more than seven decades. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1981. A portion of the bridge collapsed in 2014. The Waco Tribune-Herald reported the collapse with a story and photo, noting that the collapse occurred on the southern portion of the bridge. The Tribune-Herald reported that the bridge was built in 1925 at a cost of just more than $8,000.
I remember crossing the bridge sometime in the 1950s on one of the Sunday afternoon drives that my parents frequently made. I doubt many people still take Sunday drives, but they were a typical part of our weekends in those days. I grew up in a house on the edge of Lake Waco just south of the Waco airport. I remember having a child’s wonder at the Braniff DC-3 airplanes that took off and landed at the airport. The bridge at Eichelberger Crossing would have been just a few miles from our house. I was attending Bosqueville Elementary when we crossed the bridge. I don’t remember the exact year, but it would have been between 1957 and 1959. I remember my mother making a somewhat alarming comment about the safety of the bridge, and my father of course paying no mind. I also remember the rickety sound of the wooden planks under our car. My older sister says that the bridge was widely known among her friends as the rickety bridge. We left that house near Lake Waco in 1960 when the new Lake Waco Dam was built. The area where our old house stood is now under water.
Anyway, for years I’ve wanted to find the old bridge and renew a memory. I found the area on an internet map and, with the use of GPS on my iPhone, was able to find Baylor Camp Road. With a little effort, I found the bridge. The photos with this post were taken on April 5, 2017. There is of course a modern and safe structure right next to the collapsed bridge. But if you drive off the main road and park in a dirt area next to woods, you can walk about 30 yards and be at the north end of the portion of the bridge that remains. I walked the length of the remaining bridge and found two men fishing off the south end where the collapse had occurred.
The fish weren’t biting, according to the two men. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful and pleasant spring morning. Even without catching any fish, there could not have been a better way to spend such a perfect day with the Central Texas sun just beginning to bring warmth. One of them told me he was from Ohio, and he knew nothing about the history of the bridge. I told him briefly about my youth and my memory of the bridge, but I could tell he wasn’t especially concerned. And he shouldn’t have been. You had to have seen the bridge when it was in one piece, and even better made a rickety crossing, to really appreciate it. It was old Waco.