Parker County Today January 2018 - Page 34

became a small mail station on the road between Waco and Fort Belknap, farther north in present-day Young County. Like many early North Texas towns, Balch went by other names as well — Irby, after a prominent rancher along the Brazos River; New Prospect; and finally Tin Top. A cotton gin built here in 1909 sported a galvanized tin roof that could be seen for miles around, especially when the hot summer sun caught it just so.  It was 1949 when the few commu- nities of the area just south of Weatherford — Balch, Horseshoe Bend and Hightower — banded together under the name Tin Top. Tin Top Suspension Bridge, beg un in 1902 and completed in 1906, was ripped down by a flood in 1982. (Or, depending on the source, it collapsed under the weight of snow Jan. 31, 1982. Yet another source says the antiquated bridge plunged into the Brazos in 1983, “a victim of long neglected maintenance.”) The purpose of the bridge, of course, was to connect communities south of the Brazos with those to the north. Until its erection, apparently, people living south of the river felt more closely associated with Hood County than Parker. The proper name of the bridge changed last year when the Texas Historical Commission voted Jan. 29, to approve a name change to the Tin Top Suspension Bridge Piers, as the piers are all that is left of the structure. The name, according to the THC, “reflects the loss of the bridge 1982.” Though most of it is gone, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Of course not everyone is on the right side of the ever-turning wheels of progress. (Is it a steamroller?) A Mr. Brannon ran a successful ferry busi- ness on the Brazos upstream from Hightower Valley, which encom- passed the area addressed here. His old-tech business went kaput once the Mitchell & Pigg bridges of the area were in place. The commu- nity at the site named the bridge Brannon’s Crossing. No doubt flat- tered by the sentiment, it’s unclear what Mr. Brannon turned his hand to next. BLAIR VALLEY This community lay south of the Brazos across from Tin Top and was named for a man named Blair who settled there in the late 1850s. He was a saddle tree maker by trade and reportedly lived in a cabin with a most unseemly entrance. “One had to crawl on all fours to get inside.” If Mr. Blair lived to old age in the cabin, he most assuredly regretted the entrance scheme decided upon when his limbs were limber and joints sure. Sources: • Handbook of Texas Online • parkerchc.org Texas Almanac Jim Wheat’s Postmasters and Post Offices of Texas “Bridges Over the Brazos,” Jon McConal; TCU Press, 2005 other online sources White’s Funeral Home Our family serving your family since 1908 32 Kari Drake, Andy Browning, Anita White, Ken Corzine, Bob White, Richard Woodman, Jillian Johnston, Bruce Duncan, Robert Sheffield Full Service Funeral Home • Cremation Services • Pre-Need Plans Azle • Springtown • Mineral Wells • Weatherford • 817-596-4811 • www.whitesfuneral.com