The Save The Swinging Bridge grassroots group has launched a Facebook campaign and is circulating a petition to keep the Swinging Bridge safe from modernization and/or replacement, as other rural bridges in Miller County have undergone.

The Save The Swinging Bridge grassroots group has launched a Facebook campaign and is circulating a petition to keep the Swinging Bridge safe from modernization and/or replacement, as other rural bridges in Miller County have undergone.  

The Save The Historical Brumley Swinging Bridge Group, that was organized on Facebook, met at The Cave Event Center on Swinging Bridges Road in Brumley Thursday evening, September 19th to discuss efforts to preserve the existing structure.  Miller County Presiding Commissioner Tom Wright, Dr. Lisa Thomas, candidate for House 124th District State Representative, Bob Lynch MODOT area engineer, and Kelly Stallings, National Historic Register Candidate were on hand to speak to the subject and answer questions of the group of members and 35 concerned citizens.  

The meeting opened with President Mark Beabout welcoming attendees.  MODOT engineer Bob Lynch answered questions and reported that the Lake Ozark Council of Local Government Regional Planning installed a traffic counter on the bridge.  No numbers are available to report as of yet. A BRO Federal Bridge Funding is available to counties to use on bridges, with the county deciding which bridge or bridges it would be used for in the amount of $280,000 per year.  There are a couple of other options available to pursue for funding repairs, such as grant writing and bridge preservation programs. Lynch informed that the state is only responsible for inspecting the bridge, which has been recommended every 24 months.

Kelly Stallings spoke to the group next, giving a progress report on the status of registering the swinging bridge with the National Register of HIstoric Places.  She shares that she contacted the Miller County Historical Society with no response. Stallings is applying for the national registry, which can take 30 days to receive a response, and up to 6 months for approval.

Miller County Presiding Commissioner Tom Wright addressed the citizen group next, in regards to previously mentioned funding programs and the county’s plans where the bridge is concerned.  He says there are no plans to shut the bridge down to vehicular traffic in the next four years. Miller County maintains the bridge, and reports that it is not part of the state park.

Save the Swinging Bridge Vice President Brian Duncan suggested that the county allow repairs to be made to the bridge to upkeep vehicular traffic if the group could fund those repairs with donations.  Other citizens brought to light a couple of concerns about the bridge should car traffic be closed there. Cathy Whittle shared that the nearby campground and fishing access would be closed to visitors, which could have an economic impact on the area.  Jeff Wilson has been using the bridge to cross for 60 years, and informs the group that if traffic were closed across the bridge, that it would take an additional 45 minutes to an hour to travel the same distance, if rerouted. This could be a big problem for emergency vehicle response time.

Big Tavern Creek’s Boeckman Swinging Bridge near St. Elizabeth  was replaced with a concrete structure in 2003. It was previously protected by being placed on the National Historic Register in 1979.  Nearby Hoecker Wooden Bridge was also replaced with concrete in 1984. The Brumley Auglaize swinging bridge is the only structure of its kind still standing in Miller County.  *Miller County Historical Archives

How is the condition of the bridge? 

According to an inspection performed in September 2018 for the Miller County Commission and the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Swinging Bridge is in poor condition, mainly showing missing and broken cables, and recommending vehicular traffic be limited to five more years without replacement. The bridge accommodates about 250 cars crossing per day, carrying traffic across the Auglaize backwaters of Lake of the Ozarks.  The firm conducting visual inspection, Poepping, Stone, and Bach Engineering, recommended turning the structure into a foot bridge if preserving the original Swinging Bridge design. They also recommend continued inspection of the bridge every 24 months. *Poepping, Stone, and Bach Engineering. 

On August 21st, 2019 the following report was given by the Miller County Commission:

Swinging Bridges Update: The Miller County Commission has no plans to close or remove the Swinging Bridges at this time. A MODOT engineering inspection is scheduled for next year and the safety of the bridges will be evaluated. The Commissioners view these structures as historic landmarks as do many Miller County citizens. Even if the bridges are deemed unsafe for vehicle traffic there are no plans for removal at this time. Every option is being explored to protect our bridges. *Miller County Commission

Families in the Brumley area have always enjoyed the bridge as a recreation area, to swim in the cool backwaters of the Auglaize, and fish the nearby banks for Channel catfish. A primitive campground supplies lodging for the many overnight catfishermen, and kayakers at the Swinging Bridges Conservation Area, a 25 acre area overseen by the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

Constructed in 1931, the bridge has also provided a quick crossing for essential emergency services to residents.  

Those wishing to sign the petition to Save the Brumley Swinging Bridge to the Miller County Historical Society can do so online at 

www.change.org/SavetheSwingingBridge!