Tom Keener – Guest Contributor
Mar 21 2017
Red River Bridge War



Central Standard Time



Allen Public Library
300 N. Allen Dr.
Allen, Texas 75013

Learn about the only time in Texas history when Texas Rangers were summoned for an armed interdiction against another American state. Rusty Williams, author of The Red River Bridge War: A Texas-Oklahoma Border Battle, will share this account at 7:30 pm, March 23 at the Allen Public Library.

This conflict does not refer to the annual football rivalry, but about the time Texas and Oklahoma almost went to war over an old toll bridge north of Denison that connected the states across the Red River in1931.   This two-week affair was 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 Native American peace delegation. Traffic backed up for miles, blocking 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--marking an end to one governor’s political career and sending another governor down the road toward the White House.

Rusty Williams is a writer-historian who recounts history through the stories of the people who lived it. A former journalist, Rusty has written for The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Associated Press. He is also the author of My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans (University Press of Kentucky) and Historic Photographs of Dallas, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s (Turner).  

When asked how he became interested in this conflict, Rusty observed, “While reading Tony Hillerman’s autobiography, an interview with former Oklahoma Governor Bill Murray about the incident was recalled, and that sparked my interest.” 

Sponsored by the library, the program is free.  Call 214-509-4911 for more information