Colbert Historical Society to hold program on Red River Bridge War

September 22, 2013

The Colbert Historical Society has planned a special program about the” Red River Bridge War” between Oklahoma and Texas at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Warren Bridge Span CHS was able to obtain from the Texas Department of Public Safety and move to the Colbert City Park when the bridge was taken out in 1995.

Speakers will be Attorney Ken Rainbolt and Dr. Doug McMillan of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, who are great, historians, said Wyota Hannan, president and charter member of CHS.

“This should be of very special interest to many and Dr. McMillan’s uncle was a Texas Ranger guarding the Texas end of the Bridge, when Oklahoma Governor “Alfalfa “ Bill Murray came down in 1931 and declared the bridge open and free,” Hannan said.“Of course, there has always been a lot of speculation and interest having two governors meet at the same place to stay their course on their beliefs. However, Governor Alfalfa Bill made himself a name in history from this one event.

“We feel this is in keeping with the goals and aims of our local Historical Society to have a program of this nature to preserve our history. We also feel that many will learn a lot by hearing these two gentlemen present their story. Also, those who have heard the story in thepast will be refreshed with memorable events that took place on that day.”

James Hannan, Wyota’s husband, was then 5 ½ years old and witnessed the event as his dad, Calvin Hannan, walked him down to Colbert and on to the bridge to see all this action. He remembers it as though it was yesterday.

“We wonder how many other people in the area are still living and had the privilege of being there on that day,” Hannan said.

The Red River Bridge War was a 1931 bloodless boundary conflict between Oklahoma and Texas over an existing toll bridge and a new free bridge crossing the Red River. On July 24, 1931, Oklahoma Governor Murray declared martial law at the site that was enforced by Oklahoma National Guardsmen. Murray armed himself with a revolver and came to the bridge to join the guardsmen. The injunction against the bridge opening was dissolved and the martial law order rescinded on Aug. 6.

The public is invited to the free event and CHS would like to have a large crowd bring their lawn chairs.

“Our Colbert High School Oklahoma History teacher, Mr. Jerry Clark, is gathering a group of students toparticipate and learn from it, “Hannan said.“This should give them some extra credit for coming and learning from living historians, rather than the usual book learning. We feel that every person who comes will learn and be reminded of that great time in the history of our area.”

The Colbert City Park is on the east side of of Highway 75 through Colbert and can be accessed from the Service Road that runs alongside the highway There is a west gate entrance and plenty of parking available. The park can be seen easily from the highway, so that no one should have a problem finding the location.

Those attending should bring lawn chairs because special seating is not available at this location.

“Don’t miss this chance to get a fresh perspective of that important time in the history of our two great states,” Hannan said.