Construction of Pendleton Bridge over future Toledo Bend Lake

The old and the new.  The old truss bridge which crossed the Sabine River for three decades stands next to the support structures which are being constructed as part of the new Pendleton Bridge which will cross Toledo Bend lake
The old and the new. The old truss bridge which crossed the Sabine River for three decades stands next to the support structures which are being constructed as part of the new Pendleton Bridge which will cross Toledo Bend lake

In 1966, there was not yet a Toledo Bend Lake.  The bridge which crossed the Sabine River, which was dammed in 1967 to form Toledo Bend Lake, was a metal truss bridge built in 1936 to replace a ferry crossing across the river.  It was tee-tiny compared to what its “replacement” two or three mile long bridge would be.

Both bridges were named Pendleton… though the older was more often called the Pendleton Gaines Bridge.

Some old aerial photos taken by the Texas Department of Transportation show the Pendleton Bridge during construction, and the old Pendleton Gaines Bridge before it was no longer to be used to cross the Sabine.  I enlarged and clarified some portions of each of these photos.  If anyone recognizes any structures or roads or anything in the enlargements, please share any details!

Pendleton Bridge construction, looking east from the Texas side of hte Sabine River
Pendleton Bridge construction, looking east from the Texas side of hte Sabine River
The Pendleton Bridge today, looking towards Louisiana from the Texas side.
The Pendleton Bridge today, looking towards Louisiana from the Texas side.
Toledo Bend Lake today and the Pendleton Bridge which crosses it.
Toledo Bend Lake today and the Pendleton Bridge which crosses it.
Closeup of construction of the new Pendleton Bridge in or about 1966
Closeup of construction of the new Pendleton Bridge in or about 1966
I believe this is on the Louisiana side, looking west into Sabine Parish on Hwy. 6 (El Camino Real)
I believe this is on the Louisiana side, looking west into Sabine Parish on Hwy. 6 (El Camino Real)
This photo looks like it was taken from the Louisiana side of the Sabine River.  Not sure though.
This photo looks like it was taken from the Louisiana side of the Sabine River. Not sure though.
Old Pendleton Gaines bridge can be seen next to beams for the new bridge
Old Pendleton Gaines bridge can be seen next to beams for the new bridge
Bridge beams being lowered into place by heavy cranes
Bridge beams being lowered into place by heavy cranes

Looking from the Texas side of the Sabine River towards Louisiana, 1966
Looking from the Texas side of the Sabine River towards Louisiana, 1966
Closeup of the bridge under construction, with Hwy. 6 to the left
Closeup of the bridge under construction, with Hwy. 6 to the left
The old and the new.  The old truss bridge which crossed the Sabine River for three decades stands next to the support structures which are being constructed as part of the new Pendleton Bridge which will cross Toledo Bend lake
The old and the new. The old truss bridge which crossed the Sabine River for three decades stands next to the support structures which are being constructed as part of the new Pendleton Bridge which will cross Toledo Bend lake

Louisiana side of hte Sabine River, I am pretty sure.
Louisiana side of hte Sabine River, I am pretty sure.
Lone vehicle traveling east across Hwy. 6
Lone vehicle traveling east across Hwy. 6
I'm not sure which road this is.. it appears to be on the Louisiana side
I’m not sure which road this is.. it appears to be on the Louisiana side
The Pendleton Gaines Bridge... once a mighty bridge crossing a mighty river... until the far mightier Toledo Bend came along
The Pendleton Gaines Bridge… once a mighty bridge crossing a mighty river… until the far mightier Toledo Bend came along
Building a bridge
Building a bridge
Texas side of the Sabine River
Texas side of the Sabine River
A bluff on the Sabine River north of the old Pendleton Gaines bridge
A bluff on the Sabine River north of the old Pendleton Gaines bridge
Winding roads
Winding roads
Crossing the Sabine River
Crossing the Sabine River
An old Texas Oil Company (Texaco) station and possibly store on the Texas side of the Sabine River
An old Texas Oil Company (Texaco) station and possibly store on the Texas side of the Sabine River
Another look at that Texaco
Another look at that Texaco
Structures on the Texas size... businesses and residences
Structures on the Texas size… businesses and residences

 

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33 thoughts on “Construction of Pendleton Bridge over future Toledo Bend Lake”

  1. You can’t be on the Louisiana side and look west into Sabine parish as one of your photos was captioned. Thanks for the photos. Some I have not seen.

  2. We traveled from Texas to Winnfield, La. during my youth for 11 years. I can’t tell you how many times we crossed that old bridge. We stopped at that old Texaco station on the Texas side many times to get a coke. It seems to me the elderly gentleman who owned the Texaco station told us that there was a natural flowing/artesian well across the road from his station, if we would like to get a drink of water. Man, this article really brought back memories. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Is that bump in the middle actually the state line, as I was told? Did they purchase the land from owners before flooding it?

  4. How about those old cars? I love it!! Being into classic cars, and seeing a picture back when they weren’t classic, just what you drove to work every day, is so cool. How smart were they to build the bridge before flooding the lake? I bet the bridge looked funny after it was completed but before the lake was flooded. A huge bridge crossing nothing but trees! LOL

  5. I worked on the bridge during it’s last year of construction. I worked for Brown and Root out of Houston but the bridge was apparently built under the auspices of the State of Louisiana since it was their engineers that were responsible for all testing and final “okays” on everything we put together. The little store/Texaco station did a booming business at lunch time but was out of business as soon as the waters started rising. There was an old man said to be something of a hermit that lived in the woods upriver from the store. He had a bad limp said to be caused by being bitten by a water moccasin. I never knew what became of him. When the dam was closed off it took just a few days for the river to spill out of it’s banks into the timber. There were thousands of fish killed as apparently this was toxic to them. A lot of the guys picked up baskets of stunned or dying fish. We finished the bridge in late ’67 and there was water side to side but it was nowhere as deep as it is today. I worked alongside a lot of good men both black and white from Texas and Louisiana some of whom still make me smile today when I think of them.

    1. Ray Keonitzer, since you worked on the bridge I’m hoping you can tell us more about the speed of the impoundment. I once heard that the original plan was to harvest all the timber, but the timing was off. The water rose fast and that’s why we have all the standing timber today. Also, I have a memory (may be right, may be wrong) of driving across the new bridge and looking out at the partially submerged truss bridge. I was only 6 years old at the time, so today I wonder if that memory is real or just something I dreamed.

      1. The water came in steadily and there was a lot of timber left standing. Due to the topography there were dry areas under the new bridge as well as places five feet deep. I know that the truss bridge was there when I was laid off as completion neared, but I never got an answer that I could trust as to it’s final disposition.

    2. My dad worked on the Toledo Bend Bridge also and he worked for Brown & Root. His name was Don Rash. I love traveling over that bridge, as I have for a lifetime. Sabine County and Sabine Parrish are my home.

  6. It was very real! I was about 16 at the time, and I remember well the old truss. I also have memories of the new bridge being built, and my Grandfather, H.C. Bragg, saying that he would never believe that water would come up high enough for that bridge. He did live to see it happen, and even fished it a few times.

    1. I was about 10 when we last crossed the old bridge while new one was being built. Please help me remember which bridge is on north side? I thought crossing from Texas (going East) into Louisiana, the new bridge was on my left. But photos indicate old submerged bridge is north of new one. Which is it?

      1. Mike, I was nine years old in 1966, and like you remember crossing the old bridge many times. My memory is that crossing the old bridge coming from Texas, the new bridge was on the right. An elderly gentleman named Rex Ebarb and his little boy Carl, lived in a homemade houseboat that was parked on the left side of the old bridge. When we visited them and played with Carl, us kids would walk along the bank and look under the the old truss and watch the construction of the new one. I am almost sure that the new bridge was on the right coming from Texas heading toward Louisiana. These are wonderful memories.

        1. Martha, I went to Rex Ebarb’s house along the river back in 1968. At that time there was a house on pilings and the water from the river was swirling around one of the corner pilings as I watched. I was 6 years old then. We came through Scrappin Valley on Hwy 87 from Old Salem Texas to visit Mr. Ebarb. We were somewhere around Fairmount and a small twister formed and dropped hundreds of fish onto hwy 87 as we waited for the high winds and rain to pass.

  7. We to drove over the old road and watched the dam being constructed . Pappy said there never be enough water to need a Bridge that tall . I was 7 at the time and never seen nothing that tall and long in my life , I thought pappy was right . Now I live on the lake and the river did rise to fast to cut all the trees , and I am thankful for the trees , I also remember after the water rose you could see all the houses barns and feed lots , cars School buses , farm tractors under the water , and we fished there for White perch .!!!!

  8. During the drought of 2012, the topography and the old-times sites that so many of you mention were exposed, when the lake levels fell to their lowest point. Using my imagination, I think it was probably like the flood scene in the movie OH BROTHER WHERE ART THOU.

    1. What I meant to say was, the release of waters to fill the reservoir was probably like the flood scene in oh brother where art thou. If you have seen the movie, you will know what I’m talking about.

  9. I well remember the old bridge. I also remember the construction of the new one and how the temporary road wound it’s way around those columns prior to completion . It was kinda creepy thinking about all of that area was soon to be under water. As a teenager I could not even comprehend what the end result could be.

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  14. If my memory is correct, the guy who owned the Texaco and store was a Mr. Ezernack. I would like to see this verified or discredited. My parents considered buying the store in or around the late 40s. Seems the price was $400.00 or $600.00. it was a Texaco station and store.

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