February 12, 1909
On the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, a footbridge bearing his name was dedicated at Platt National Park (now part of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area) in south-central Oklahoma adjacent to the town of Sulphur. The Lincoln Bridge, built across Travertine Creek in the park, replaced a succession of rickety wooden bridges at the location that were each either washed away or in need of constant repairs. A bridge was needed at the site as a key part of the travel route between the main entrance to the park at Sulphur and – just south of the creek – cold-water mineral springs that were widely believed to have important therapeutic qualities.
The necessity of a more durable bridge over the creek that could safely support pedestrians mushroomed with the ever-increasing popularity of the park and in particular the mineral springs. Albert Greene, the park’s superintendent, awarded the task of building a new bridge to the local firm of Liberenz & Robinson in November 1908.
Construction of the limestone arch Gothic Revival bridge began immediately and was completed that following February 11. The dedication ceremony the next day included speeches, songs, and a recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Mrs. Lucy M. Bennett, dressed in a period costume from Lincoln’s era, christened the bridge with a wine bottle containing water from one of the mineral springs.
Greene told the crowd that the bridge “will doubtless stand for ages,” and described the new structure in a similarly positive manner in a report he subsequently submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Interior. Greene asserted in the report that the bridge was “a feature of utility and beauty” within the park. In 2011, the quarter for Oklahoma that was released as part of the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters series included an image of the Lincoln Bridge.
For more information on the Lincoln Bridge, please check out https://www.nps.gov/chic/learn/historyculture/lincoln-bridge.htm.