Cowley County Stone Arch Bridges
Visitors from across the globe come to Cowley County to visit the historic bridges including the stone arch bridges.
There are only 1,700 stone arch bridges remaining in the United States with more than 18 historical stone bridges across Cowley County.
– Safety & Respecting Private Property –
When visiting the stone arch bridges in Cowley County keep in mind that most locations are surrounded by private property. While the roadway is public access, the land around and under the bridge requires landowner permission to enter the property.
We hope you enjoy your visit in Cowley County and all that our communities offer!
Tourism Specialists at the Winfield Chamber and Arkansas City Chamber are happy to assist you in your search of the stone arch bridges.
123 E. 9th Ave.
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
Arkansas City Chamber
106 S Summit St.
Hours: Mon-Thurs 9am-5pm & Fri 9am-1pm
Happy Bridge Hunting! Here are printable and Google map links for your convenience:
Walter Sharp-Bridge Builder
Cowley County is the Stone Bridge Capital of Kansas with 18 bridges on a self-guided tour. Bridge pioneer Walter Sharp is responsible for many of these remaining arch bridges in Cowley.
Born August 21, 1858 in Owatoma, MN and raised in Burlingame, KS, Sharp began his career in El Dorado. Sharp became one of the most prolific builders of arch bridges constructing over one hundred stone arch bridges in the state by 1904, most of them in Butler, Cowley and Greenwood counties.
Sharp was a huge proponent of stone arch bridges. Availability of the materials and workers in the area made construction cost effective. Stone bridges were also known for their strength and ability to withstand flooding; reasons why they still stand today.
Sharp was persuaded to building stone bridges in New Mexico following devastating floods in 1903, prompting him to open the Walter Sharp Bridge Company in Sante Fe and a branch office in Colorado. But business remained brisk in Kansas where Sharp began experimenting with concrete, constructing some of the largest arches without steel girders of that time.
With much of his business in Cowley County, Walter Sharp moved to Winfield in 1912 with his second wife and mother of three of his children, Gertrude Campbell Sharp of Marion. Sharp was previously married to Elizabeth Mott of Marion from 1880 until her death in 1896. To this union four children were born. He remained in Winfield until he died at the age of 70 and buried at Highland Cemetery.
Some of Sharp’s innovative work is still in use today. This includes the last remaining triple arch bridge in the county, Kirk Bridge, constructed south of Dexter in 1913. With a price tag of $3350, it was one of the most expensive stone arch bridges of the time. Kirk and the double arched Silver Creek bridges are on the National Register of Historical Sites.
Cowley County Stone Arch Bridges were featured on KTWU’s Sunflower Journeys. Watch full episode here at the link below!