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Bridgeport

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Almost a Ghost Town

Bridgeport, once a thriving town is almost a ghost town. Route 66 passed through the town from 1926 to 1934 crossing a Toll Bridge just north of it until the new Route 66 alignment was built and the Historic Canadian River Bridge was completed in 1934. Visit its 1907 Church and ride the original alignment of route 66 (a listed historic site).

Bridgeport OK

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About Bridgeport, Oklahoma

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation:1,503 ft (458 m). Population: 116 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Bridgeport is located on the northern border of Caddo County, to the north, across the Canadian River lies Blaine County. Route 66 and I-40 pass to the south of the town.

This region has been inhabited for over 10,000 years, but the current mix of Native Americans is the outcome of migrations and relocations that began in the 1700s.

Cheyenne & Arapaho

The Arapaho lived in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and southern Canada, and the Cheyenne lived near the Great Lakes in Minnesota, moving later towards the Great Plains (1700s.).

Soon both nations formed an alliance and hunted in a territory which spanned from Texas to Montana. A Treaty with the U.S. government (1868) guaranteed the integrity of their traditional lands but soon European settlers entered the area leading to conflict and war.

The natives were later assigned a Reservation near Fort Reno in what would become Oklahoma (1867).

This would change when then the US Congress organized the Oklahoma Territory from land formerly ceded to Indian Nations. The U.S. government distributed part of the land of the Reservation among the tribe members (160 acres each) and bought back the surplus, which was later opened to settlement during the "Cheyenne-Arapaho Opening" in April 1892.

The name Bridgeport.

Its name derives from the spot used for crossing Canadian River, just north of the town. It could be crossed at low-water on horse back, or ferried across it during the high water period.

Cheyenne Arapaho Opening

3.5 million acres of "surplus" land was opened for settlement by the U.S. government on April 19, 1892. Settlers rushed to claim their 160-acre homestead plot.

By the end of the "opening", only 20% of the land had been claimed and only 7,600 people had settled there. The region at that time was going through a severe dry spell (1885-1896) which hurt the crops. There were no railways to ship the produce to the markets.

The rural community was established in 1895 at a strategic ford across Canadian River. The original town started in 1901 as a federal townsite, and it incorporated in 1901.

The Choctaw Railroad (later the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad) built a line from Oklahoma City and passed through the town, but the community declined paying the insurance so the railway did not build switches near the town until later. This led to a drop in the population, which shifted to other nearby towns. A second railway passed through the town in 1902.

Cotton production was the mainstay of the local economy. And by statehood in 1907 it boasted 462 residents, which began to decline during the 1920s.

In 1926 Route 66 was aligned through the town using the 1921 private toll bridge built across the Canadian River, but the upgrade during 1931-34 moved the road further south, bypassing it for good.

The Great Depression hurt farmers and population dwindled. The once thriving community is now almost a ghost town with some residents.

It was, and still is, a rural community based on farming. The original alignment of Route 66 only passed through it between 1926 and 1934, when it was shortened and aligned further south, bypassing it.

Where to Stay

Book your hotel in nearby El Reno

>> Book your Hotels in Motels and Hotels in El Reno, 26 miles away

Lodging Near Bridgeport along Route 66

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>> There are RV campgrounds close to Bridgeport.

Weather in Bridgeport

Weather widget for the town nearest Bridgeport

The average high in summer (July) is 93°F (34°C); the average low is 69°F (21°C). The average high in January (winter) is 46°F (8°C), and the average low is 26°F (-3°C).

The yearly rainfall is around 28.7 inches (729 mm). Most rain falls during May and June with over 4 in each (100 mm).

There are about 89 wet days every year. Important: Thunderstorms are frequent during late spring and summer, with hail, heavy rain, strong winds and, sometimes tornadoes.

Snow may fall between November to March: 9.6 inches of snow (24 cm) per year.

Tornado risk

Bridgeport is located in Oklahoma's "Tornado Alley and experiences about 11 Tornado watches every year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
 

Route 66 and Bridgeport Oklahoma
Location of Bridgeport, Route 66

Getting to Bridgeport

Heading east from Bridgeport down Route 66 are the towns of: Geary (10 mi.), Calumet (21 mi), El Reno (26 mi.), Yukon (40 mi.), Oklahoma City (55 mi.), and Edmond (66 miles).

To the west, are Hydro (11 mi.) and Weatherford, 18 miles.

Map of Bridgeport and Route66

in Oklahoma.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: Interstate highways, where they overlap the old alignment.

The Black: line shows the 1926-1932 alignment from Bridgeport through Geary and Calumet.

  Click to See the Eastern Oklahoma alignment

Remove or restore State shading
 

Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66 itinerary to Bridgeport

Route 66 logo

Route 66 in Oklahoma

Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across Oklahoma.

Below we give information on Route 66's 1926 alignment near Bridgeport.

Bridgeport, Oklahoma: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Bridgeport Attractions

Bridgeport is almost a ghost town the main sites are the derelict buildings, the well kept 1907 church, the post office and the remains of the old toll bridge north of town. To the west is the Historic Canadian River Bridge on Route 66, and the 19.5 mile original roadbed segment which passes south of the town, both are historic sites.

The 1907 Church

On the southeast corner of Broadway and Market St.

The First United Methodist Church of Bridgeport was built in 1907 and, unlike many buildings in town, is in very good condition and is still in use.

Old Post Office Building

On the east side of Market St. between Wichita Ave. and W. Broadway

A simple tin sheet roofed building.

The Toll Bridge at Bridgeport

Suspension toll bridge at Bridgeport Oklahoma

The "Key" toll-bridge at Bridgeport Oklahoma, www.66postcards.com.

It was a common practice in the state of Oklahoma for private toll bridges to operate on highways built by the state at key rivers (Red, Grand and Canadian).

The Canadian River bridge was therefore part of this practice. The Oklahoma City businessman George Kay built the bridge in the 1921 and charged $1.00 for cars and $1.50 for trucks. It was a suspension bridge, held up by cables.

Route 66 used the suspension bridge

When it was created in 1926, Route 66 was aligned along the Ozark Trails - Post Route from Geary to Bridgeport, and as expected, used the only bridge in the area: the Key Toll Bridge.

Remains of the Suspension toll bridge at Bridgeport Oklahoma

The remains of the bridge at Bridgeport, OK, Google Maps.

However its use by Route 66 would be short lived, a new bridge was built along the upgraded alignment further east, which bypassed this former toll bridge in 1934, when it opened to traffic: the Historic Canadian River Bridge.

The old toll bridge was washed away by the floods.

The original towers can still be seen on the north bank of Canadian River, just east of the old railway bridge.

You can reach it via E1000 Rd., which runs along the north side of Canadian River. See details below), and the following Map shows how to get there.

The image on the right shows the two northern towers of the 1921 suspension bridge across Canadian River.

Zoom in on Google Earth View.

There were two railroads crossing the river next to the old suspension bridge: the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf built their bridge in 1898 and it was used by the Enid and Anadarko Railway (1901). in 1907 the bridge was demolished when a freight wagon derailed and broke the span. It was rebuilt in 1908 and washed by a flood in 1914. It was again rebuilt but the track was abandoned in 1939.

Tours & Itineraries

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Visit, to the east, the nearby towns of Geary, Calumet, El Reno, and to the west, Hydro.

Head west from town to visit the Historic Canadian River Bridge:

Historic Canadian River Bridge

The longest bridge on Route 66.

Old Route 66 and Canadian River, Geary, OK.

The longest truss bridge in Oklahoma and of the whole Route 66, built in 1933.

It spans the South Canadian River in Caddo County on the upgraded alignment of Route 66 (now US 281), it lies on the county line (Blaine and Caddo Counties).

William Henry Davis "Alfalfa Bill" Murray (1869 - 1956). Was the first Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives after statehood, as U.S. Representative, and the ninth Governor of Oklahoma (1931-1935).

Its official name is "William H. Murray Bridge", but locals know it as the "Pony" bridge.

Canadian River Bridge, Geary - Bridgeport

Canadian River Bridge Route 66 Bridgeport
Old Canadian River "Pony" Bridge, Bridgeport OK.
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View
Canadian River Bridge

Old Route 66 Bridge across Canadian River, original drawing. J. E. King

It is the longest bridge on Route 66, measuring 3,944.33 feet. or about 3⁄4 miles (1,203 m). It cost $346,000 and was built by the Kansas City Bridge Co.

It consists of 38 pony truss sections, each 100 feet long. "Pony" refers to how the trafic is located in relation to the structure, in a pony bridge traffic flows between the parallel trusses which are not braced at the top. (the trusses are the steel structures that support the bridge on either side of the roadway.

The trusses are "Camelback" design, a name which is due to the shape of the truss whic it curves with a slight arch-shape. Strong and light.

It was finally opened to traffic in 1934 due to delays in the Bridgeport section of US 66.

Trivia

The west end of the Canadian River Bridge appeared in one of the scenes of the 1940 movie "Grapes of Wrath", in the scene where "Grandpa" died and was buried.

The Old alignment of Route 66 near Bridgeport

The segment of OK-66 running from the bridge westwards, and passing by Bridgeport is in fact a Historic site, listed in the National Register of Historic Places:

For those keen on seeking out the old original roadbed of Route 66, these are some tips for the Bridgeport area:

The 1926 Original Road from Geary to Bridgeport

Route 66 reached Geary coming from Calumet (heading west) along 150th St. NW (US 270). It grazed the southern part of town, taking a southwards turn along Broadway (left) following it for three blocks. At the time, US 281 did not exist, so it followed the unnamed road that nowadays splits to the right with a SW course next to the railroad tracks.

Of course, the weary travelers drove north into Geary to fill up their tanks, eat or rest.

The road south of Geary was built by Oklahoma State Highway Commission between 1925 and 1926, and that year it became part of US Hwy. 66, and remaind so until 1933 when the "El Reno Cutoff" bypassed it.

At the junction with N2620 Rd, it met the old 1916 Postal Route that followed the longer Ozark Trail ( it left Geary along SW South St., E0960 Rd and then N2620 Rd.).

At the junction, Route 66 took a left and headed straight south along the Ozark Trail which had been built in this section in 1917 by the town of Geary and had been improved in 1925-1926 by Oklahoma State Highway Commission, it remained unpaved.

Towards the toll bridge

The road continued south next to Lumpmouth Creek and took a right, westwards along E1000 Rd. towards Bridgeport, this was the alignment of US 66 from 1926 to 1933, it was also the 1918 Postal Route (Ozark Trail). Just before the Railway Bridge over the South Canadian River, Route 66 turned left (south) and crossed the river over a private Toll Bridge, and entered Bridgeport along road that is not accessible from the north (the bridge is gone).

However this road can be reached from Bridgeport: it is on the north side of Lonewolf Ave. between Main and 5th St. it has a north to south alignment and ends in a dead-end short of the remains of the 1921 Toll-bridge.

See the Map of this 1926 original segment.

The El Reno to Bridgeport Alignment

As from 1926, Route 66 had the following alignment: it left El Reno and ran along what now are the eastbound lanes of Bus. 40; at Fort Reno turnoff it followe modern E1020 Rd. (OK-66).

At the junction with US 270 the 1926 segment turned right and headed north through Calumet and then west through Geary to return back south via Bridgeport (see the detailed description of this Calumet - Geary alignment).

The Map shows, with a Black line, the 1926 alignment from US 66 Jct. US 270 to Bridgeport.

Relict Road

At Old US Hwy 66 jct. US 281, on the south eastern corner is a strech of road 300 ft (100 m) long of the original roadbed. It can be accessed from either higwhay just 200 ft. short of the junction. (Coordinates: 35.550926, -98.306247)

Route 66 from El Reno to US 270 jct. remained as such between 1926 and 1962.

After 1932, a new paved alignment was drawn to shorten the road and upgrade it bypassing Calumet and Geary: it headed west (modern E1020 Rd.). It was originally paved in 1931-32 in Portland Concrete and was known as "El Reno Cutoff".

It then followed US281 Bus. Spur (with a NW alignment after the Cherokee Trading Post. and took a left (passing in front of the Bridgeport Hill Service Station), heading west along old Old Hwy 66 (Paved in 1932) until it reached modern US 281 and turned left with a SW alignment towards the Historic Canadian River Bridge.

Here, is the eastern terminus of the intact 1931-34 alignment of Route 66, described below.

Bridgeport Hill - Hydro Segment of Route 66

Old Route 66 Bridgeport Hill to Hydro, Geary to Hydro, OK.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

One of the longest intact segments of Route 66 in western Oklahoma: 19.5 miles long.

This segment begins just west of the South Canadian River bridge (described above), and heads west all the way to Hydro. It was paved in Portland Concrete in 1931, 33 and 34. It is the current alignment of OK-66. East of Bridgeport are two bridges built in 1934. The road, bypasses Bridgeport along its southern side and keeps west towards Hydro where it ends 0.5 mi. east of Exit 84 of I-40 near Weatherford.

Some patches of aspahlt have resurfaced it west of Canadian River, but the rest is unaltered. It has the original integral curbs and drains to help discharge rain water.

It remained operational until 1962 when I-40 replaced it. It also did away with the private toll bridge just north of Bridgeport on the 1926-1932 alignment of Route 66.

See the Route 66 alignment map from El Reno to Bridgeport (1926 - 1933 - 1962).

Natural Attractions

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Just 9.7 miles SW of Bridgeport along US 281. See this map with directions.

Visit the 80 feet high red canyon walls: rappelling is one activity, as well as fishing, hicking, rock climbing and swimming. The park was a stop along the Historic California Trail of the 1800s pioneers.

RV facilities with hookups and also primitive sites. Camping allowed too. Full details.

Sources

Cynthia Savage, Bridgeport, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org

Postcard, Key Bridge, Bridgeport, 1929 (Kathy Anderson), from www.66postcards.com, under Fair Use.

Keith Bridewell, Bridgeport, Oklahoma, Bridgeport Indes, 2006.

Dianna Everett, Turnpikes and Toll Bridges, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License