Events

1922 Free Bridge Commemorative Celebration

1922 Free Bridge Commemorative Celebration image

Event Details

Dates: 5/14/2022
Times: 1:30 PM - 4 PM
Price: FREE
Contact: 479-783-7841

Description

A partnership between the Fort Smith Museum of History, the Fort Smith Historical Society, and the Fort Smith National Historic Site brings a 100th Anniversary commemorative celebration of the 1922 “Million Dollar Free Bridge” to the Frisco Station in Fort Smith on Saturday, May 14 at 1:30 p.m. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Adding to the festivities are the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum and the Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club along with a special guest, Mayor George McGill, and visits by the 1922 Fort Smith Mayor, Fagan Bourland portrayed by reenactor Matt Hutchinson and the 1922 Queen Louise Golden, portrayed by reenactor Susie Brooks. A final program by a Fort Smith National Park Service park ranger will wrap up the afternoon.

Over the two-day period of May 11th and 12th 1922, the largest celebration in Fort Smith history occurred in recognition of the opening and dedication of the Garrison Avenue “Million Dollar” Free Bridge. Governors from both Arkansas and Oklahoma were present for the christening and dedication of the bridge, as a flight of eight Army biplanes performed maneuvers overhead. Over 20,000 people were present in the city to observe and participate in the two-day long celebration culminating years of back-breaking labor, legal battles, and cooperation between states in the creation of the iconic bridge.

An article by Al Whitson in the Fort Smith Historical Society’s April 2022 edition of The Journal details the massive undertaking: “The completed bridge was 3,173 feet long, consisting of twelve girder spans totaling 498.33 feet, fourteen arch spans totaling 2,047.25 feet and two smaller arch spans totaling 424.5 feet and a retaining wall on the Arkansas side that was 203.33 feet. The overall width of the bridge was 41 feet, of which twenty-eight feet comprised the roadway and thirteen feet (6.5 feet each side) was sidewalk. The total finished bridge contained 20,000 cubic yards of concrete and 784 tons of reinforcing steel.”

Agenda: Programming begins at 1:30 PM inside the Frisco Station building.
1. History of the Frisco Building by Chuck Girard.
2. Parade of Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club’s vintage automobiles.
3. A proclamation and remarks by Mayor George McGill.
4. A history of the construction of the 1922 Bridge by Al Whitson.
5. Remarks by Mayor Bourland and Queen Louise Golden.
6. Programming by Fort Smith National Park Service park ranger.
7. Closing Remarks

Images and photographs of the 1922 Million Dollar Free Bridge from the archives of the Fort Smith Museum of History and the Fort Smith Historical Society will be available for public viewing as well as original concept drawings of the 1922 Bridge loaned by Carder Furgeson. The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum will display John Bell, Jr. well-known prints featuring the 1922 Million Dollar Free Bridge. The Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club’s parade is representative of the many decades of vehicles that would have been seen on the “Million Dollar Free Bridge”. The vintage vehicles will cross the current bridge, leaving from the Oklahoma side, and come to a stop behind the Frisco Station. The FSAAC will have the cars on display until 4:00 PM.

Join us for this special commemorative celebration of a major milestone in Fort Smith’s history!

* Please confirm directly with the promoter or box office to ensure event details have not changed.