McLaren Bridge linked Marlow and Cameron

This is the second column in a series on the McLaren Bridge.

Travel was difficult in the early 1900s in Milam County and crossing the San Gabriel and Little rivers made it even worse.

The banks of the Little River were very steep in the location needed by the landowners to cross the river from Marlow to Cameron.

Land across the river toward Cameron was owned by R. L. Batte Sr.

He arranged to give a right-ofway through his land for travel to Cameron with the agreement the farmers would gin a certain number of bales of cotton each year at Batte's Round Bale Gin.

The gin was located along the railroad tracks on First Street in Cameron.

Cotton was a big crop for landowners in the 1900's. As many as 2,000 bales of cotton could be brought in during a year.

Every detail in producing cot- ton was done manually and with teams of mules to pull plows and wagons.

Landowners had tenants that lived on the farm, woke before the crack of dawn and began their days in the fields.

Cotton was planted w ith a team of mules and a walk-behind planter, chopped with a hoe and picked by hand.

It was then loaded into long wagons and hauled to the gin, getting there at daylight.

This bridge was critical to reduce travel to market and also provide a shorter route to town for all the families living in the Marlow area.

During the construction, S. W. McClaren was hired as an overseer by E. L. Horton, the contractor who built the bridge. The cost to build the bridge back then was around $5,000.

The road from Marlow to Cameron, now that the bridge was built, not only allowed the farmers to haul cotton, but also grain, cattle and produce to markets.

It served the community with a back way to Cameron, paralleling Highway 36 to the west.

Research: "McClaren Bridge" by Max McClaren published in "Matchless Milam Book 1984."

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