Oak Cliff train trestle to become historic landmark

interurban bridge

A piece of Oak Cliff transportation history is set to become a City of Dallas Historic Landmark.

The Mountain Creek Bridge was constructed in 1930 and built to last centuries, although it was only in service for about five years.

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A remnant of the bridge, off Jefferson about a quarter mile west of Cockrell Hill, was part of the Texas Interurban Railway, a system of electric passenger trains that moved people all over Texas beginning in the early 1900s. This bridge was part of the line that came through Oak Cliff down Jefferson Boulevard and on to Fort Worth.

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An interurban rail car travels past the L.O. Daniel mansion on Jefferson Boulevard, toward what is now Hampton Road. The mansion is across the street from Sunset High School.
An interurban rail car travels past the L.O. Daniel mansion on Jefferson Boulevard, toward what is now Hampton Road. Today the mansion is across the street from Sunset High School.

In 1930, the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad needed an 8-mile spur to move materials to and from Cement City. But that line needed to cross the interurban line. So the rail road and Dallas County split the cost to build the 45-foot tall, 400-foot long Mountain Creek Bridge. They also excavated to lower Jefferson Boulevard and build the new railway spur between the two, creating a triple underpass. That is all explained in detail in a paper, embedded below, written by Michael Amonett, a landmark commissioner and past president of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League.

In 1951, Dallas County Commissioner Denver Seale wanted to tear down the bridge because he thought Jefferson Boulevard needed to be widened eventually. Seale told the Dallas Morning News at the time, however, that the bridge would be too expensive to destroy:

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We’ve got to remove the bridge eventually to make room for road widening and general improvement of West Jefferson Boulevard. But back in 1930, they built bridges for the ages and tearing down the Mountain Creek Bridge is going to be an engineering feat. I hope to have it out of the way within the next six months so the entire right of way may be cleared and West Jefferson Boulevard widened through Mountain Creek Valley

The idea to widen Jefferson died out after Interstate 30 was built, and the sturdy Mountain Creek Bridge has remained these 86 years.

Map of the proposed Chalk Hill Trail
Map of the proposed Chalk Hill Trail

The landmark commission’s designation committee is expected to approve landmark status for the bridge at its Feb. 17 meeting. After that, there are a few more bureaucratic steps before it reaches City Council, maybe this summer.

County Commissioner Elba Garcia and the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League have agreed to split the cost of a historical marker.

The 12-foot wide bridge could become part of the planned Chalk Hill Trail, which will follow the old Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe line from Westmoreland south of Illinois, past Cockrell Hill and up to West Davis at Chalk Hill Road.

A meeting to gather community input on the Chalk Hill Trail proposal is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Arcadia Recreation Center.

 

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