I've spent a lot of time the last few months in my car. I love to drive and I love to explore. It's also a safe place to be during a pandemic. There's plenty of fresh air and no one in my space! Just me, my car, my camera, Arkansas road map, something to drink, and a snack or two. This day's exploring took me to Shirley, Arkansas, population around 300.
I follow several Arkansas bloggers and photographers not only for their beautiful photos, but also to find interesting and little know places to explore. When I read about this old railroad bridge in Shirley that crosses the Little Red River, I knew I had to find it. The unique thing about this railroad bridge is that is was converted in 1978 to a one-lane car bridge. How many of you can say that you've driven a car across a train bridge? That was certainly a new experience for me. If you notice in the picture above, I did check out the weight limit!
I will admit, driving across the bridge was the scariest thing I've done in a long time. The bridge rating is poor and it does look a little rickety, but I just had to cross it! My heart was beating a little fast as I inched forward, making sure I would even fit. There was room, but not a whole lot. My Yukon is about 6.5' wide, the bridge was 8.2' wide. About a foot on each side; not much wobble room! I stopped for a moment in the middle of the bridge so I could look at the river. Definitely no looking while driving!
Here's a little information about the bridge. The Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Co. was hired by Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad to build a bridge over the Little Red River in 1908. At that time Shirley wasn't even a town, just a settlement that had a booming log business. In 1949, due to strikes from the railroad workers the trains stopped running. In 1978 the bridge was converted to a vehicle bridge. The length of the bridge is 339.8 feet and as soon as you get to the other side there's a sign that says "public road ends." Thankfully, there is a big place to turn around!
I parked the car and walked a few feet onto the bridge. I didn't go very far; I was afraid of being caught in the middle when a car came by. Of course, I never saw a car, only a four-wheeler, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. In the picture above you can see one of the concrete pillars and a few of the railroad ties that are still there.
A view of the Little Red River.
Shirley has one downtown business street, a lovely park by the river, and a church. I love old stone buildings with tin roofs. They are a reminder of days gone by.
Just in case you want to move to Shirley and open a business, here's an great option! Notice tll the cut pieces of wood used as decorations and isn't it a lovely color.
I came pretty close to trading my vehicle which is across the street for this truck. I thought my grandsons would love seeing Gramma driving around town in it. But I decided it probably didn't get good gas mileage and was a little too long for parking!
There were a couple of business that sold antiques and repurposed items, such as this bench. The back is the tailgate from an old truck. The stores weren't open yet. I was too early. It would be fun to explore them sometime.
I hope you enjoyed my adventure exploring the small town of Shirley in the Ozark Mountains. Not only, was the experience unique, but the trip driving curvy country roads was beautiful. I hope to be back soon with another adventure.