Bridge #18 at Rock Creek
Plan Your Trip
Bridge #18 at Rock Creek is still in use as the part of Historic
Route 66 crossing Rock Creek in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.
Of the great number of bridges built
on Route 66, Bridge #18 at Rock Creek is one of the better
examples of the remaining steel-truss bridges in Oklahoma. Truss
bridges were developed in the mid-1800s and used extensively
until World War II, when technology changed and more
standardized concrete designs were developed.
of lineage, the ancestor of the steel-truss bridge is the beam
bridge, usually built of wood and limited in the amount of
weight it could support. As a result, early roads generally
followed old trails where rivers and creeks were shallow. Even
bridges that were quite long were located at shallow crossings.
One of the oldest types of modern bridges, truss bridges
were altogether something new. Bridge #18 at Rock Creek is
composed of connected elements, in this case steel beams, which
stressed by tension and compression (or sometimes both) in
response to dynamic and heavier loads. Because of truss bridges,
deeper water could be safely crossed. Roadways no longer had to
meander from one low-water crossing to another. Instead they
could be built along the shortest route. Bridge #18 is a Parker
through truss bridge. Its ancestor is the beam bridge, while its
descendants are today’s cantilever, truss-arch, and lattice
bridges. Unusual for a steel truss bridge, #18 has brick
Bridge #18 is an illustration of the bridges of
its era. Route 66 travelers who crossed Rock Creek near Sapulpa
during the late 1920s would have thought the bridge the most
dynamic design of its time, and it was. Constructed in 1924, #18
served as part of the old Ozark Trail, one of the few marked U.
S. roads at the time. It became part of Route 66 in 1926. Just
over a decade later the State’s entire section of Route 66 was
paved. The bridge served Route 66 until the construction of a
new alignment in 1952. The bridge was listed in the National
Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Sapulpa itself, a
town of about 20,000, has some notoriety unrelated to its
historic bridge. Chief Sapulpa, the area’s first permanent
settler, was a Creek Indian. In 1850 (at just about the same
time engineers were designing the first truss bridges), he
established a trading post near the meeting of the Polecat and
Rock Creeks. Sapulpa is the home of Frankoma Pottery,
established in 1933.