The Red River Bridge War
A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle
Texas History - Western History - Texana
6 x 9, 330 pp.
34 b&w photos. 2 line art. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 05/20/2016
Red River Valley Books, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Texarkana
Price:        $29.95

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Winner, 2017 Oklahoma Book Award, sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book
Winner, 2016 Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History, sponsored by the Oklahoma Historical Society

The Red River Bridge War

A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle

Rusty Williams

Winner, 2017 Oklahoma Book Award, sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book

Winner, 2016 Outstanding Book on Oklahoma History, sponsored by the Oklahoma Historical Society

At the beginning of America’s Great Depression, Texas and Oklahoma armed up and went to war over a 75-cent toll bridge that connected their states across the Red River. It was a two-week affair marked by the presence of National Guardsmen with field artillery, Texas Rangers with itchy trigger fingers, angry mobs, Model T blockade runners, and even a costumed Native American peace delegation. Traffic backed up for miles, cutting off travel between the states.

This conflict entertained newspaper readers nationwide during the summer of 1931, but the Red River Bridge War was a deadly serious affair for many rural Americans at a time when free bridges and passable roads could mean the difference between survival and starvation. The confrontation had national consequences, too: it marked an end to public acceptance of the privately owned ferries, toll bridges, and turnpikes that threatened to strangle American transportation in the automobile age.

The Red River Bridge War: A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle documents the day-to-day skirmishes of this unlikely conflict between two sovereign states, each struggling to help citizens get goods to market at a time of reduced tax revenue and little federal assistance. It also serves as a cautionary tale, providing historical context to the current trend of re-privatizing our nation’s highway infrastructure.

RUSTY WILLIAMS, an avocational historian, is the author of My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans and Historic Photographs of Dallas, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He resides in Dallas.

What Readers Are Saying:

“It is a well-researched, well-organized, and engagingly written account of a little-known story in Texas and Oklahoma history. It will appeal to a wide cross-section of readers” — Cynthia J. Beeman, Co-author of History Ahead and History along the Way

", engagingly written, and thoroughly researched...."— Keith L. Bryant Jr., author of Alfalfa Bill Murray

"...wonderfully brings to life this forgotten Depression era episode when armed Texas Rangers and Oklahoma National Guardsmen faced each other across the Red River."—William C. Davis, author of Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic

“The 1932 Texas-Oklahoma Red River Bridge War is legendary in Southwest history. Although it never became a shooting war, countless stories are still told about the conflict. Author Rusty Williams has sifted through the facts and fiction and produced a highly readable and enjoyable book about the truth as he found it. This book should become a standard reference work on a subject that residents of both states still relate and debate.” —David Dary, author of Stories of Old-Time Oklahoma and The Oregon Trail: An American Saga

"One of the kookier chapters of Texas Ranger history, the Red River Bridge War was only a war of words, not bullets. With the help of a colorful Oklahoma governor and equally colorful Rangers, the news media hyped a legal dispute between two states into something just shy of another Civil War. This is a well-researched book and an informative and fun read." —Mike Cox, author of The Texas Rangers: Wearing the Cinco Peso, 1821-1900 and Time of the Rangers, 1901 to Present

"Williams’s engaging account is...captivating, and his colorful writing style brings the reader into the courtrooms and state capitols and to the very edge of the Red River. A must-read for any fan of Texas, Oklahoma, or highway history.” —Susan Croce Kelly, author of Father of Route 66: The Story of Cy Avery

"As I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Red River Bridge War by Rusty Williams, I had to keep reminding myself that everything being described by the author really happened. This is one of those rare books where exceptional research, topnotch writing, and colorful, real-life characters come together in memorable fashion. Forget Texas and Oklahoma playing college football. Rusty Williams has described a much more fascinating Red River War." —Jeff Guinn, author of New York Times bestsellers The Last Gunfight and Manson

"Highway construction may strike many as a dull topic. The Red River Bridge War is anything but dull. Williams examines a historical background stretching to the Louisiana Purchase, and provides a fascinating look at the creation of the nation's highway system. Williams shows how history and progress impinged to create a two-week standoff over a pair of automobile birdges." — Mark Lardas, Freelance Writer

“Rusty Williams’s The Red River Bridge War: A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle provides a provocative account of this strange post–Civil War political conflict between Texas and Oklahoma that foreshadowed similar conflicts throughout the western United States between private enterprise and state-sponsored development. Williams has consulted a wide range of primary documents, newspaper accounts, memoirs, and legal records to reconstruct this story with aplomb. At approximately 220 pages of text, The Red River Bridge War—which is the first book-length treatment of this episode—reads quickly and should serve as a valuable reference for professional historians and history buffs interested in Depression-era history.” —TheJournal of Southern History


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