Until 1987, this was the bridge that crossed the East Fork of the Cadron Creek. It was a one-lane bridge so travelers on Highway 25 would have to wait for oncoming traffic to finish crossing before they could continue.
Called the King’s Bridge, it was named after Capt. Bryant V. King, a Confederate veteran who initially operated a ferry across the East Cadron. In May 1873, when the Faulkner County court set up 13 road districts in the county, A. Harkrider, the district overseer, cross-laid poles and slabs for one mile across the Cadron bottoms to create a toll road connecting Conway to the little villages north of King’s ferry. Travelers were charged 25 cents per wheeled vehicle.
It could not be determined when King built the first bridge across the East Cadron but it appears to have been in place by the late 1870s. He appeared in county court in 1879 to ask for a contract with the county “for the privilege of taking tolls for the term of 40 years in compensation therefore of keeping King’s bridge and the public road from that place to Conway.”
King was given the contract and erected a toll gate at his bridge. The fees for use of King's Bridge were: six-horse wagon, $1; four-horse wagon, 75 cents; two-horse wagon, 50 cents; two-horse carriage, 50 cents; one-horse carriage 35 cents; a man on horseback, 15 cents. If one had loose horses or cattle, he paid five cents a head. If a farmer had hogs, sheep or goats, he paid 2 ½ cents a head.
These were the rates for non-residents of Faulkner County. The rate for local citizens was somewhat lower. Quite a few farmers used this route to get to Conway. In 1913, a traffic count on King’s Bridge showed that in a 12-hour period 183 wagons and buggies used this route from the north of the county into Conway. That didn’t mean that the road was very good. It was also reported that same year that it required four hours for a group of politicians to travel the eight miles from Wooster to Conway.
The contract was annulled when Col. A.P. Robinson made plans to construct county-owned bridges in this area. In February 1919, State Senator George F. Hartje, Sr. introduced legislation to create a road district with the authority to issue $1.2 million in bonds to cover road expenses. A new 23-mile Conway-Damascus road would be built.
William R. Compton of St. Louis purchased the bonds and the federal government awarded a $258,000 grant with more promised in the future. Damascus issued $530,000 in bonds and rallies were held in Wooster to secure the right of ways for the new road. As a result, land owners promised 90 percent of the required right of way for the highway.
In late 1921, concrete contractor F.L. Scull of Conway laid 90,000 feet of four-inch flooring on the newly finished concrete bridge piers over the East Cadron. In late 1922, the hardwood floor was completed for the new King’s Bridge. It was 340 feet long and 14 feet wide.
U.S. Highway 65, one of Faulkner County’s first hard surface roads, would be completed in 1923. It traveled through downtown Conway along Front Street and Washington Avenue before cutting through Cadron Gap and heading north. It then cut across the Cadron Creek bottoms to Wooster and further northward to Damascus.
Unfortunately, just four years later, major parts of the road were washed out when the Flood of 1927 caused the waters of the Cadron Creek to rise 27 feet above normal. In 1942, the Highway 65 route was changed to a more favorable route north through Pickles Gap, Spring Hill, Greenbrier to Damascus.
The loss of this major thoroughfare had profound effects on the growth of the communities north of King’s Bridge. They are just beginning to recover and grow again. When the new U.S. Hwy. 65 opened, the former U.S. Hwy. 65 was renamed State Highway 25 and was diverted east at Wooster toward Greenbrier. In the 1950s, Lake Beaverfork was built and the highway was re-routed around the west end of the lake. Another long bridge was built at the foot of the lake’s north levee by the spillway.
For many years, overgrown trees lined Highway 25 across the Cadron bottoms and around King’s Bridge. The roadbed was much lower than it is today and still subject to flooding. In 1987, when the new two-lane concrete bridge was built, the trees were cleared, allowing the road to be less treacherous during snow and ice events. The roadbed was also raised considerably so that road flooded less frequently.