Y Bridge Galena

The Y Bridge of Galena

by Joshua Heston

If great civilizations last long enough, the culture’s great edifices — the technological marvels of the day — become crumbling monuments of a past age.

The old Galena Y Bridge, spanning the James River is just that to Ozark heritage. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1991, the bridge was finished in November 1927.

It’s surprising — and heartening — that the structure was not torn down.

Closed to all but foot traffic since 1986, the bridge’s unique Y design was implemented to improve safety as Highway 13 and Highway 248 converge. Both roads skirt a sheer rock bluff before combining to cross the James — a river sometimes shallow and friendly, sometimes rolling and fierce.

The towering, ’20s-era concrete supports — formed and poured on-site using local materials — still collect flood debris.

Once, any automobile traffic heading down to the Ozarks on Highway 13 (formerly the Old Wilderness Road or Old Wire Road) would cross the Y Bridge, passing through Galena, enroute to Reeds Spring and then Lake View (now Branson West) and Table Rock Lake.

Today, modern roads — and modern bridges — bypass the towns, creating an increasingly innocuous (albeit safer) drive.

Galena and Reeds Spring have faltered, the towns’ economies slowly dying.

And yet, for 83 years, the old Y Bridge of Galena, a towering monument to an earlier age, has shadowed more than its share of gigging parties, float trips and everyday fishermen on the old James as it winds its way past the hollers and coves before widening out into Table Rock Lake.

Some things, fortunately, do not change.

February 25, 2010

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Galena Y Bridge

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Galena Y Bridge

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Galena Y Bridge

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All photo credits: J. Heston. All Plates, Galena Y Bridge, Stone County, Missouri (2/25/10).)

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