Brush Creek Bridge
Cherokee County, Kansas
The Brush Creek Bridge can be reached by driving north on N.
Willow Ave. (Southeast 50th) approximately 3.5 miles out of
Baxter Springs, KS.
a half miles north of Baxter Springs, Kansas stands the elegant
Brush Creek Bridge, the only remaining example of a fixed Marsh
Rainbow Arch bridge left on Kansas Route 66. Two other examples,
the Spring River and Willow Creek bridges, were dismantled in
the early 1990s.
The Brush Creek Bridge, also known as the Rainbow
Bridge, was part of a project in the early 1920s to connect the
mining communities of Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs with
a concrete road. The unique and graceful Rainbow Arch design was
the brainchild of James Barney Marsh, a bridge designer from
Iowa, who patented the concrete and steel truss design in 1912.
Marsh spent the next two decades erecting approximately 70 of
his Rainbow Arch bridges throughout the Midwest, most of them in
Kansas, where approximately 35 still remain.
consists of a pair of arches disposed between two abutments,
with concrete banister railings aligned parallel with the bridge
deck. The original patents called for slideable wear plates,
molded into the concrete where the bridge deck came into contact
with the beams and abutments. This is important, as one of the
main benefits of this design was to allow for the expansion and
contraction of the reinforced concrete bridge under varying
conditions of temperature and moisture. Built in 1923, the
130-foot bridge carried Route 66 motorists over Brush Creek
until it was bypassed by the interstate in the 1960s.
The Brush Creek Bridge was listed in the National Register of
Historic Places in 1983. In 1992, upon seeing two other Marsh
Arch bridges on the short stretch of Route 66 through Kansas
dismantled, the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association worked
successfully to save the Brush Creek Bridge. At this time, a new
bridge was built just to the east of the Brush Creek Bridge to
redirect and accommodate the increasing needs of local traffic.
Two years later, the Association and the Cherokee County
Commission combined efforts to make important repairs to the
Brush Creek Bridge.
In 2005, the National Park Service Route 66
Corridor Preservation Program provided additional Cost-Share
Grant funds to assist with repairs to the concrete
superstructure. Although local traffic has been rerouted around
the bridge, it is still possible to walk or drive across the
bridge. If you’re lucky, you may discover it in use as a venue
for a community picnic or wedding – and you’ll likely be invited
to join in.