The Cotter Bridge, also known as the R.M. Ruthven Bridge named after the County Judge, has become one of Cotter's most historical objects. The Cotter Bridge is most likely the biggest bridge of its kind still standing. The Cotter six-span Bridge was designed by the Marsh Engineering Company, and was patented by James Marsh in 1912. The Cotter Bridge was built by the Bateman Contracting Company of Nashville, Tennessee in 1929. The construction of the bridge cost $500,000 and it is approximately 1,850 feet long.
The Cotter Bridge stood for seventy-three years before they started restoring it in 2002. There were forty-four workers who worked on restoring it and even though there was a delay, on August 4, 2003, they were able to finish restoring the bridge. They were able to have the Cotter Bridge finished in 2004. The lighting of historical Cotter Bridge with more than 3,000 lights was celebrated on December 13, 2004.
The re-dedication of the bridge was a day to remember. It started on September 24th at two p.m. with the singing of our national anthem and the flying of three vintage aircraft from Cotter's "Air Force" over head at the Valley Fly-In. At 3:00 p.m. the cannon roared to proclaim the re-opening of the R.M. Ruthven Bridge. There were war re-enactors from Mountain Home and Bakersfield, Missouri. The war re-enactors fired their 12 pound Napoleon cannon on the signal given by Hart's Battery while the Cotter fire Department sprayed arches of water to add to the already vast celebration. The ribbon on the bridge was cut by Mayor Bill Jennings of Cotter and Mayor Mary Jane Erwin of Flippin. The mayor led a ten vintage cars across the bridge. The cars included a 1923 Buick Roadster, 1926 Ford Phaeton, 1927 Ford Model T, 1929 Desoto, and several others. The speakers included: Bill Jenning, Wayne Ruthven, Forrest Wood, and Jonathan Barnett. A poem was written by Herbert Messick, and was read by his daughter Mary Ann Messick. It was dedicated to all the workers who worked on restoring the bridge and to all the men years ago who built the very historical rainbow arch bridge. Being historical is not the only great thing about this very monumental rainbow arch bridge. It also stands over the White River, where the most beautiful trophy rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, jack salmon, buffalo, red-horse suckers, and enormous catfish live. If you like to fly fish, spin cast, or just love ordinary fishing you'll have the time of your life.
A historical bridge is not all that this little town offers. The town of Cotter is just amazing as its six-span bridge and has great history behind it. It all started in 1868. The little town they called Cotter started out as an Indian town, but not for long. The White River flooded the area they now call Cotter. It became very popular with its rich soil, and beautiful scenery. It caught the eye of many travelers. As the Whites' population increased, the town began a lot of planning and organizing to begin the newest town of Baxter County. Like all the other little Arkansas towns, it starting building transportation systems like railroads, bridges, ferries services, and residential districts. The town also had to think of the obvious things like general stores and clothing stores. By the end of 1904 the town had expanded tremendously. It had: six general stores, two drug stores, two grocery stores, one furniture store, one bank, two meat markets, one jewelry store, two real estate offices, one blacksmith shop, one telephone exchange, three barber shops, two pool halls, three doctors offices, one livery barn, six hotels and boarding houses, two photo galleries, one laundry mat, one paint shop, one carpenter shop, one shoe shop, and one school.
Although this beautiful town had amazing scenery, it also had its down points. For example, in 1927 Cotter had a flood. The flooding almost wiped out all the businesses and on Tuesday, September 5, 1905 at noon, a fire in the kitchen of the Bob and Bettie Miser's hotel (one of the first to arrive they ran a hotel in a tent) got out of hand and much of the McLean Street business district was destroyed. Since the fire in 1905, Cotter has become one of 26 Arkansas cities to receive the Four Star Municipality Award for demonstrating excellence in loss control management during the past year. The award covered employee safety, wellness, vehicle safety, and prevention of legal liability. Even after all the goods and the appalling floods, Cotter has managed to have the most striking scenery places for tourists and people looking for a incredible place to settle down and raise a family. So if you're ever in Arkansas, then go to the monumental six-span Cotter Bridge the R.M. Ruthven Bridge. If you need any tourist information, please visit Chamber Office on the corner of 2nd Street and Combs Avenue. Hours are: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.