During the 1870s, the trans-Mississippi West of the United States was experiencing a rapid increase in population. The Civil War had ended and settlers from both the North and the South were pushing westward onto the prairies. As towns became established, there was a clear need for durable bridges that could support horses and wagons. The Bowstring Truss Bridge became a popular design in the 1870s. They were sold as kits and could be assembled rather quickly.
Very few Bowstring bridges remain today, but one of them can be found in the town of Chanute, Kansas. The Austin Bridge was originally erected over the Neosho River at Chanute in 1872 by the King Iron Bridge Company. It has been moved twice. It was moved ca. 1910 to a settlement near Chanute known as Austin. Thus, the bridge was associated with Austin for many years and eventually became one of the last remnants of the settlement. In 1999, it was moved into the city of Chanute where it currently serves as a pedestrian bridge.You can find the bridge on the south side of Chanute in Santa Fe Park. It is a highly significant remnant of the transportation heritage of the United States.