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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Historic Carpenters Bluff Bridge

With progress or growth comes change and some changes are not always the most desired.  Some changes are sad, but necessary.  The population growth of North Texas has brought a lot of changes in the roads, highways and byways and there is no end in sight to this growth.  Increase traffic has stressed and strained the actual roads as well as the drivers and riders on the roads. 

Road construction has been and is large scaled and far reaching in our area.  Fun, curvy, low traffic Farm to Market roads are more difficult to find than just a few years ago. One particular casualty to the growth is a historic one lane bridge crossing the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.

Bridge from Texas side
Bridge seen from the Oklahoma side.
The wear and tear can be seen under the bridge
Carpenters Bluff bridge was built in 1910.  Trains, wagons, horses and people paid a toll to cross over the bridge.  In the 1960's Grayson County was deeded the bridge and it was renovated for the modern automobile traffic.  Today one lane is for motorized traffic and a deteriorating wooden walkway on on the south side.  I have walked on it, but there are holes and missing boards.
Wooden walkway on the side of the bridge

VFR idling on the bridge for a quick photo
Part of the charm of the bridge is having to stop and make sure no vehicles were already crossing.  (See video below) The rusted iron bridge provides great views to the Red River while crossing; however, due to the age, condition and the increase traffic on the bridge the two states decided to build a new bridge near Carpenters Bluff bridge and close it to vehicle traffic while allowing pedestrian use.
One lane - two bikes - Honda VFR 1200 and Aprilia Tuono
New bridge under construction
The historic bridge is east of Denison, TX on FM 120 and west of Kemp, OK on Carpenters Bluff Road/Kemp Road.  FM 120 has multiple curves and is a fun road to travel.
FM 120 to bridge and ride on bridge
If you want to experience some history before growth and progress gates off the ride head to Carpenters Bluff soon.  Authorities have not release a date for the opening of the new bridge and closing of the historic bridge, but I suspect it will happen sometime this year (2017).
Update on Carpenters Bluff Bridge on Ordinary Biker Oz Youtube channel


  1. Good post, reminded me of some of the narrow bridge crossings in Europe, or archway passageways into still-walled cities in Germany...usually one direction gets priority and the motorcycling gods help you if you aren't paying attention!

  2. Thanks. I am looking forward to riding in Europe this summer and see some of those bridges. I will be alert!

  3. It is sad what goes by the wayside in the name of progress. I wonder if the bridge will be restored as historic but still closed to vehicles.

    Around here they keep straightening out our local twisty roads to the coast. Drivers are distracted and keep crashing, so rather than get people to pay attention they straighten the "dangerous" roads. Sigh.

    1. No current plans to "restore" the bridge. Problem is neither state (TX or OK) wants to pay for it.

      There is a lot of straightening of road here also. Get drivers off their phones and looking at the road would be a better solution.