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Media Article # 387

Thursday, June 3, 2004

'Haunted bridge' moves to Callisburg Wednesday

By Jennifer Sicking
Gainesville Daily Register

CALLISBURG -- For more than 100 years a steel truss bridge provided passage and frights to Cooke County residents.

Wednesday afternoon it was moved to Parkhill Park in Callisburg where it will be refurbished and provide passage for foot traffic across a creek as part of a walking path.

"That bridge was built for horse and buggies, not concrete trucks," Wayne Bell, TxDOT area engineer, said.

It will take two to three months to replace the bridge, commonly known as the 1893 bridge. For now that section of Survey Road, where the 75-foot bridge provided crossing in northeastern Cooke County, is closed.

"It's a looped road so they're not locked in," Bell said about residents who live there.

An estimated $200,000 grant obtained by Cooke County Precinct 1 Commissioner Phil Young allowed for the removal and replacement of the historic bridge, Betty Henderson, Callisburg Park Board member said.

"We would not have this if Phil Young had not gotten the grant," she said.

The 1893 bridge is one of the four oldest in the state, Henderson said. Local officials also wanted to keep it because of its history, which includes ghost and Big Foot stories as well as its age.

Lara Teed, TxDOT bridge project manager, said the Pratt Through Truss bridge with timber decks was built in Chicago by the Chicago Bridge Company before it was moved to Cooke County.

There it remained until Wednesday.

By 9:30 a.m. workers had rigged the bridge and by 10:30 a.m. they had lifted it, Teed said. Then for the next six hours the movers took the bridge slowly around corners and under power lines until reaching Parkhill Park.

"It was absolutely amazing," Teed said.

As it was moved 10 miles from its work place of many years, parts of vines that had attached itself through the years to its steel rails waved in the breeze, as well as a sheet tied there to give it a ghostly atmosphere. Given the bridge's history, Bell said they decided to leave the sheet ghost there for its move.

Callisburg High School student Jon Eric Pharr is one who will miss the bridge in its old location.

"It used to be the main thing to do," he said Wednesday morning. "We would take people there to scare them."

He said teachers at Callisburg High School would tell the students convincing stories of Big Foot living in the creek bottom and woods surrounding the bridge.

"Sometimes we would walk down in the creek at night," he said. "We would take girls down there and have friends who would hide there to scare them."

Pharr sometimes they would prep the scene beforehand like leaving a supposedly bloody shirt on the bridge. Other times a driver would stop in the middle of the bridge and turn off the car, then pretend it had trouble starting.

"It would get everybody freaking out," he said.

While the bridge, once refurbished, will provide passage over another creek, to Pharr it won't be the same because it won't be in the same spooky area.

"We'll all miss it," he said. "It was fun to go down there and have good fun scaring people."

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