Brumley Swinging Bridge placed on National Historic Register

A view of the Brumley Swining Bridge.

The Brumley Swinging Bridge is now officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, thanks to the diligence of a group of Brumley locals.

The bridge was designated on Oct. 8, with the Brumley Save the Historical Swinging Bridge organization receiving the certificate of designation Nov. 4. The registration has been filed with Miller County Commissioner’s office and gives the bridge opportunity for grants to maintain the bridge, and repair aging components. The larger of the two swinging bridges is known officially as the Grand Auglaize Bridge, with the smaller swinging bridge not qualifying due to flat flooring replacement, thus altering its original construction.

The 500-foot bridge was built in 1931 by Joseph A. Dice, only planning for the bridge to last for 60 years at the most. It is now 89 years old, according to Miller County Museum archives,and still swaying gently. Dice, of Warsaw, built as many as 40 bridges in Missouri in his career, seven of them alone built between 1905 and 1930 in Miller County. All of his bridges were 14 feet wide and did a lot of his planning work by “feel” with a ball and twine for measuring. When the highway department required Dice to begin submitting blueprints for his bridges, he retired. Incidentally, Dice only had a 4th grade education, apprenticed his knowledge in Benton County, and sourced his materials for each bridge with local supplies, only ordering the wire as necessary from outside the area.

Locals don’t think twice about crossing the rusty, creaking one-lane bridge by car, but newcomers park their cars in the gravel and walk across, marveling at the structure with no supports underneath, and the sometimes rushing creek waters below. It is one of six remaining wire suspension bridges in Miller County.

The historic register designation effectively “saved” the bridge, which was in danger of closing due to lack of funding to maintain it’s cables and structure, which had been rated “poor” condition by engineering companies in 2018. The 3-ton capacity continues to restrict vehicular traffic over Auglaize creek, connecting the Brumley area to the rural Linn Creek area. Ameren Missouri has donated money for bridge maintenance, and the Save the Bridge group is hoping for other donations to come in.

Save the Historical Swinging Bridge Organization is responsible for the nomination to the National Historic Register. They have been holding monthly meetings for almost two years, and sponsoring clean up days for the bridge parking lots and primitive campground. Kelly Stallings, Mark, Joyce, and Victoria Beabout spearhead the committee, with Stallings spending hours filling out nomination forms and researching bridge history, including 29 pages of written history for the nomination process on bridge builder Joseph Dice.

Locals have used the bridge for generations for photo opportunities to mark life events such as weddings, prom, graduations, and family reunions. It’s a landmark for Brumley residents who fondly remember days of fishing and canoeing the creek below, parking with a date, or picnicking the grounds with their kids.

The National Register of Historic Places is administered in Washington, DC, after passing through a nomination process within the state through Missouri’s Historic Preservation Council, along with the Department of Natural Resources State Historic Preservation division.

The National Historic Register placement saved the bridge for generations to come with appropriate repairs and maintenance now ensured.