Bridge City Texas History:
The area was first settled by the Attakapa Indians, a tribe of nomadic cannibals who ranged between Lake Charles and the Neches River. Bridge City was originally called Prairie View; the town’s name was changed after the stunning 1938 Rainbow Bridge was constructed to replace the Neches River ferries between Bridge City and Port Arthur. The Bridge City post office was established in 1946; the town was incorporated in 1970. The town is surrounded by the Cow Bayou, Neches River, Sabine Lake, and the Intracoastal Canal. The town is popular for its fresh and saltwater fishing, birding, wildlife observation, and other outdoor activities. To enter Bridge City one must cross one of three bridges. The SH 87/73 Rainbow Bridge crosses the Neches River on the Port Arthur side and the Cow Bayou on the Orange side. The Cow Bayou swing bridge is located on SH 87/73. The FM 1442 (Roundbunch Road) bridge crosses a small creek off Cow Bayou between SH 105 and the city limits of Bridge City. Bridge City is located at the intersections of SH 73/87 (Texas Avenue), FM 408 and FM 1442 (Roundbunch Road), 10 miles west of the Louisiana border, 53 miles southeast of Kountze, 22 miles southeast of Beaumont, 9 miles southwest of Orange, 15 miles south of Mauriceville, 11 miles northeast of Port Arthur, 12 miles northeast of Port Neches, and 27 miles north of Sabine Pass, Texas.
Rainbow Bridge (formerly Port Arthur-Orange County Bridge), 1938 & Veterans Memorial Bridge:
The SH 87 Rainbow Bridge was dedicated as the Port Arthur-Orange (County) Bridge; it replaced the unreliable Dryden Ferry as the connection between Port Arthur and Bridge City. The Rainbow Bridge name is the result of a 1957 contest held to rename the bridge. The bridge has a vertical clearance of slightly over 176 feet. This clearance was chosen to allow passage of the USS Patoka, the tallest ship afloat at the time, though the ship never traveled up the Neches River. At the time the bridge was built it was the most elevated highway bridge over tidal waters in the world. The bridge was built to withstand a 130 mile an hour hurricane wind and a wind pressure of 75 pounds per square foot. The Veterans Memorial Bridge is located adjacent to the Rainbow Bridge; it was completed in 1991; it has a vertical clearance of 143 feet. After extensive renovations to bring it up to federal standards, the Rainbow Bridge became the southbound traffic bridge, and the new Veterans Memorial Bridge became the northbound bridge.