Regency Bridge, the last suspension bridge of Texas

Regency Bridge is the last suspension bridge open to motor traffic in Texas. It straddles the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country.

You wouldn’t normally associate Texas with suspension bridges, would you? Actually, there are a couple of those bridges in the Hill Country and they’re both in San Saba: Beveridge Bridge and Regency Bridge.  

Regency Bridge is also known as the “Swinging Bridge” because is sways. I don’t know about you, but the idea terrifies me. When we went to see the bridge, my husband walked half-way along without batting an eyelid. I, on the other hand, was petrified because I have a fear to heights. My legs refused to go beyond the steel tower. I had to zoom in to take pictures of my husband on the bridge.

Oh, and the wind blowing through the steel cables makes an eerie sound.

Regency Bridge is the last suspension bridge open to motor traffic in Texas. It straddles the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country.
The Colorado River

The history of the Regency Bridge

Regency Bridge straddles the Colorado River and connects the counties of San Saba and Mills. Although it’s been bypassed by paved farm roads, the bridge was vital for farmers and ranchers for going to market.

The first bridge was built in 1903, but it collapsed in 1924. According to local records, a boy, a horse, and some cattle died as a result. The bridge was rebuilt but was washed away by a flood in 1936. A crew of workers rebuilt the bridge in 1939.  It was repaired since then, with the latest facelift being in 2014.

Regency Bridge has one lane and is located at the intersection of San Saba Country Road 137 and Mills County Road 433. It’s near a tiny community named Regency.

Approach

Bridge specs

The bridge’s overall length, including both approaches, is 403 feet. The main span in 343 feet long between towers.

The wooden deck is 16 feet wide.

It’s a cable suspension bridge supported by permanent abutment towers. The cables are anchored to the ground into concrete behind each welded steel tower.

The cables are 3 ¼” in diameter are consist of 475 strands of No. 9 gauge galvanized wire.

The wooden roadway is supported on timber stringers and steel floor beams hung from steel suspension rods.

Regency Bridge is the last suspension bridge open to motor traffic in Texas. It straddles the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country.

Regency Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the last suspension bridge open to motor traffic in Texas.

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Regency Bridge is the last suspension bridge open to motor traffic in Texas. It straddles the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country.

The suspension bridges of Córdoba

My brother’s pickup truck jolted along the dirt road towards the suspension bridges of Copina. I lost count of the times I banged my head against the window. Although the pickup truck was strong and ideal for that kind of rocky terrain, it still felt like I was inside a cocktail shaker.

Suspension bridges - Cordoba, Arg 2

We had taken the new, smooth Camino de las Altas Cumbres, the road that crosses the Sierras Grandes Mountains and joins the Punilla Valley on one side of the mountains with the Traslasierra Valley at the other end. Somewhere along the way, we turned right and took this dirt road. How exciting to spot the suspension bridges in the distance!

Suspension bridges - Cordoba, Arg 1

These bridges are part of the old Camino de las Altas Cumbres and were built in order for vehicles to ford streams, which can become impassable with snowmelt and heavy rains. This road and the bridges were built between 1913 and 1918. Before then, man and beast had traversed along simple tracks. One man who crisscrossed the mountains with his donkey in the late 19th century urged the provincial and federal governments to build a road. They eventually paid heed to Cura Brochero, the local priest who’s about to be canonized and become a Catholic saint.

Four out of five suspension bridges are still in working condition. They have become a tourist attraction, a curiosity in this age of tarmac and speed.

Suspension bridges - Cordoba, Arg 1

Each bridge was made with four stone pillars, steel cables and a wood deck. Pircas, the traditional low dry-stone walls, protect stretches of the road from runoff and landslides. Stone is also the material used to build temporary housing for the workers. Nowadays, a NGO occupies those few buildings. The solitude of this lunar landscape seems to help kick bad habits.

Down below, a herd of goats were the only living creatures apart from us. Their bleating bounced off the sheer rock walls. We got out of the truck. My young nephews wanted to climb and explore but their parents kept them in check. Although they all got too close for comfort to the edge of a cliff. I just could not move from where I was, close to the road. Shivers went up and down the back of my legs. I hate heights. The city girl in my pleaded with them, please come back! They smiled and did not invite me to join in the fun.

(Argentina) were built along the road across the Alta Cumbres mountains. Still usable, they are a tourist attraction