In the beginning, there was the ferry, and the ferry was located south of town, at the “southern edge” of Miami. The ferry preceded the town itself.
According to resident Mary Booth, born in 1898, there was also a place to ford the river under favorable conditions in the vicinity of NW 3rd. The photo above depicts this location.
Ten years after the town was incorporated (1901), a toll bridge was completed, near the present-day bridge by Riverview Park. This ended the ferry’s run. Note two bridges visible in the photo below.
The Frisco railroad to Afton was also completed that year, so Miami quickly had two bridges where it had none.
This original Frisco bridge was replaced in 1943 with a span which had no trusses. It continues to exist today, although it has had improvements over the years.
In 1916, the toll bridge was purchased by Ottawa county for $10,000, and you could now cross the Neosho south of town for free.
According to The History of Ottawa County, by Velma Nieberding, the bridge was disassembled around 1920-1921 and moved to Steppe’s Ford, west of Commerce. It was demolished there in 2016.
The disassembly of that bridge is the logical time period for the building of the concrete bridge which was there through late 1967. That bridge had arches which were prone to catching driftwood and which had to be frequently cleaned. It was replaced with a higher span with less obstruction in 1967.
In 1934, construction began on a brand new bridge at SW 3rd. On September 22, 1935, it was opened to traffic. That bridge lasted until it was replaced in 1997.
The concrete bridge depicted above was demolished shortly after the new one opened.
There’s one other bridge spanning the Neosho in Miami.
South of Riverview Park, around the river bend, stands the old M,O and G bridge. Originally built in 1912, it was abandoned some time in the 60’s. At presstime, it still stands.
There is now a concrete bridge at west Steve Owens Boulevard spanning the river. Thus, Miami now has two modern concrete bridges, one old railroad bridge in good repair, and one railroad bridge which has been abandoned.