Texas Bridge Associated With

Wed February 18, 2004 - West Edition

DALLAS (AP) Preservationists hope to save an endangered Panhandle bridge associated with Depression era outlaws Bonnie and Clyde.

State officials said the bridge must undergo expensive repairs or face demolition. Inspections have determined that repairs could cost nearly $1 million.

On Thursday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded a grant to Historic Wellington Inc. to hire experts to examine the old bridge, which spans the Salt Fork of the Red River in Collingsworth County.

A car occupied by Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker landed in the river in 1933, and the outlaws held a local family hostage. The three-span bridge, built in 1939 as part of a federal works program, stands near the former location of the wooden bridge where they took their plunge.

“From very early childhood, I heard about Bonnie and Clyde going through there,” Wes Reeves, an Amarillo communications consultant who grew up in Wellington, told DallasNews.com. “It all happened right about there where the bridge is. People always associate Bonnie and Clyde with the bridge.”

So Reeves and his nonprofit group, Historic Wellington Inc., are working to save the bridge from the wrecking ball.

Though demolition contracts were tentatively scheduled for this summer, Darwin Lankford, a bridge engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation, said his office is willing to delay those plans while preservationists work to win grant funding.

“That bridge means a lot to the people of Collingsworth County,” Lankford said. “It means a lot to us, but it’s a liability to us, too.”