Bridge replaced 'gravel bar' crossings

This is the first in a series on the McClaren Bridge between Marlow and Cameron and how it changed the lives of families living in the Marlow Community.

Travel in Milam County was sometimes difficult due to the San Gabriel and Little rivers dividing the county east to west.

Prior to the 1830's, Indians crossed limited locations where gravel bars existed and the river banks were sloped to allow safe travel. The county was known to have more bridges than counties bordering Milam.

Most of the bridges built in the early 1900's have now been replaced. One such bridge was McClaren Bridge across Little River on County Road 227 east of Cameron.

In the commissioners court meeting on Oct. 19, 1912, the court ordered that a bridge be built over Little River, 2-1/2 miles north of the McCown Bridge.

Court orders read "It is ordered by the Commissioners Court that the next bridge to be built by the county, not already contracted for, be built at the Lamkin Crossing on Little River." This location was near a family graveyard.

The bridge took the name from the late S. W. McClaren, Sr., as that family owned and purchased another 1300 acres that extended around Little River to the mouth of Elm Creek.

Even though the county was responsible for building the bridge, the following people contributed funding:

S. W. McClaren, Sr. $175; Giles McDermott $150; John Hobson $20; Y. J. Boatwright $28; Tom Hobson $60; W. L. Lamkin $30; John Tindall $5; Ed Tindall $2.50; Sy Short $25; Brice Burnett $5; and Ernest Walston $10.

McClaren had been working with the county since 1910, trying to get a route for hauling cotton to a gin without having to backtrack to Rockdale and Milano.

They used wagons pulled by teams of mules and this new bridge would shorten their trip.

Research: McClaren Bridge "Matchless Milam" 1984.

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