In Seguin, Texas there is a bridge at Starcke Park, the Weinert Bridge, also called the “Starcke Bridge”. Named for Texas Senator Ferdinand C. Weinert of Seguin, who was a noted Texas politician. This original steel truss bridge was replaced in 1982 by a four-lane open bridge spanning the Guadalupe River. This ended the era of steel truss bridges in Seguin. However, this story is not about the Weinert Bridge but rather about its predecessor, the Old Miller Bridge, and its builder Thadeus B. Miller.
Born in Russellville, Kentucky. May 13,1844 Thadeus B. Miller came to Seguin in the early 1900‘s with his family, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Miller. There Jim Miller settled at Miller folks and established a tannery. At a site that was first a dam across the Guadalupe River, Thadeus Miller established a ferry to transport goods and people. T.B. Miller owned the land from that spot west to McKee Hill, and he recognized the need for a safe crossing of the Guadalupe. Especially since four-fifths of the town’s trade came from south of the river.
In 1875, a group of citizens headed by W.E. Goodrich, editor of the Seguin Enterprise, the local newspaper, initiated a drive to raise funds for the construction of a low toll bridge at the Miller ferry site. T.B. Miller also had plans of doing the same, so he hired all of the men working on the bridge’s foundation and successfully stop its building. According to an article by Goodrich in the Seguin Enterprise, 1889 Goodrich and his investors who only wanted a bridge built, decided if Miller wanted to build it at a cost of $18,000, “they were more than willing to let Mr. Miller take the job” off their hands.
The Miller Bridge was completed in 1875 and all of Seguin was invited to witness its opening. Unfortunately, in their haste to finish (or perhaps by sabotage, as it has been suggested) some of the last pins required to safely secure the bridge were not put into place. The bridge collapsed and the townspeople’s faith in its safety was obviously shaken. Not to be dismayed and having already invested the money, T.B. Miller made the necessary repairs and once again re-opened the low toll bridge. Its re-opening was met with little support because everyone had already witnessed its previous failure. T.B. Miller and his brothers then rode out and drove a herd of wild mustangs from the area onto the bridge. Closing off one end first and then the other, once the herd was on it. They then proceeded to drive the wild and rambunctious mustangs back and forth across the bridge. Calling the townspeople out to witness this event, they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the bridge was not only functional but safe. In 1884, the town of Seguin purchased the Miller Bridge from T.B. Miller and it became a toll-free bridge.
In 1939, the Old Miller Bridge was dismantled and the iron from it was smelted down at the Seguin Steel Mill to once again become useful in construction. It was the new bridge at this site that was renamed the Weinert Bridge which became the last steel truss bridge in Seguin. Note: T.B.Miller was the great uncle of this author and the story of the wild mustangs and the failure of the first Miller Bridge had been handed down by oral tradition within the family. What do you know about Texas?