Transcribed by : Tina Easley
The first bridge built across the St. Francis was the Hopkins Bridge , constructed in 1897 by Mr. P.S. Black and Mr. J.T. Hopkins. The bridge was a narrow , one-way structure , and contained no side rails . It consisted primarily of three spans . One span jutted out from each side of the river and was supported by wooden pilings . The middle span was floated on a pontoon , so that it could be detatached at one end and floated aside by the current when boats needed to pass through . Mr. Luther Starnes recalls one of the major problems this created - when the water level changed , so did the distance between the top portions of the spans . At times , there would be a twelve to eighteen -inch drop in the middle span , making it virtually impossible to cross. The bridge was operated as a toll brige for ten to fifteen years.