Efforts are underway to designate the "Low Water Bridge," across Shoal Creek, as a local historic landmark. The structure was in danger of being demolished and replaced, but officials made the decision last year to keep it and build a new one nearby.
High hopes for a low bridge.
"By having it designated as a historic landmark by the City, that would be a first step," says Rod Harsh with the Save the Low Water Bridge Committee.
But not just any low bridge.
"There were baptisms there. Little children learned how to swim there," says Harsh.
Taking a dive even further...
"There was a lot of history along the river. Civil War encampments," says Harsh.
Harsh, a local historian and historic preservationist, feels people other than him would enjoy coming to this bridge and making a connection...between the past and present.
"Perhaps by this spring, we could have it designated as a historic landmark," says Harsh.
Harsh has submitted paperwork to Tyler Overstreet, City of Joplin Community Development Planner. But since the City owns Low Water Bridge, the city manager needs to write a letter saying he supports this historic landmark designation.
"Once we have that letter, we'll be able to send it to the Historic Preservation Commission," says Overstreet.
That preservation commission will fact-check Harsh's submitted paperwork, then do a lot of talking among themselves. Sure, the bridge has been around for 98 years. But has it really been a part of people's lives?
Jill Sullivan is on the preservation committee.
"It has been there for a very long time, and the bridge tells the story of the people who has crossed it since the early 1900's. So I definitely think there's something there," says Sullivan.
The whole country may eventually recognize Low Water Bridge. Harsh says after getting the bridge a local historic landmark, he would apply for a national historic landmark, making grant money easier to find for any future repairs.
"Restore the bridge and make it more friendly for pedestrians,"says Harsh.
Low Water Bridge will be closed to vehicles once a new bridge is built nearby. But Harsh aims to ensure the bridge will be open for foot traffic many years to come, making more memories and writing more history.
Joplin's Historic Preservation Committee is also working on designating all Joplin parks and cemeteries as historic landmarks.
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