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The Million Dollar Free Bridge Centennial Celebration

Updated: May 14, 2022

The Million Dollar Free Bridge Centennial Celebration took place in Fort Smith, Arkansas, this afternoon at the historic Frisco Train Station. It was a joint effort by the Fort Smith Historical Society, the Fort Smith Museum of History, and the Fort Smith Historic Site, The Regional Art Museum and The Fort Smith Antique Automobile Club.

It was great to see current Fort Smith Mayor, George McGill, dressed for the era, there to celebrate the history of our city. He kicked off the programming with a proclamation. Historian Chuck Girard educated us on the role and the background of the Frisco Station which predated the new bridge by several decades. Then Fort Smith Historical Society member Al Whitson educated us on the bridge’s construction history complete with photos taken before, during construction, during the grand opening and after.

To add charm and fun to the event, “Bridge Queen” Susie Brooks read a few comments from the real Bridge Queen’s presentation one hundred years ago. And “Fagan Bourland,” also known as Matthew Hutchison these days, talked about what the Bridge meant for the City of Fort Smith.

Finally, Ranger Cody Faber from the Fort Smith Historic Site shared with us what this bridge meant within the context for not just Fort Smith History but also the larger development of American transportation.


Event committee included Chuck Girard, Erin Langford, Sue Robison. Caroline Speir, Al Whitson, and Bill Word. With special assistence from Nancy Dunn Ahlert.


Al Whitson

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