The Warren Pony Swing Bridge was the first major bridge to connect Miami Springs and Hialeah. The bridge is sometimes called the “Incoming Bridge” since it is now a one way incoming route from Hialeah into Miami Springs. It continues to serve today as an important physical link between Hialeah and Miami Springs.
In 1922, Glenn Curtiss and James Bright of the Curtiss-Bright Development Company donated $23,500 to Dade County to fund the construction of a bridge that would connect the sister cities of Hialeah and Miami Springs, which were incorporated in 1925 and 1926 by the prominent local developers. The bridge was designed by the Pompano and Dania Bridge company of Broward County in 1923. One year later, the bridge was fabricated and installed at its present location by the Champion Bridge Company of Ohio. It’s interesting to note that the Warren Pony Swing bridge predates to incorporation of the City of Miami Springs by two years.
The bridge replaced a primitive three pontoon barge bridge while also allowing for the flow of river traffic. Of course, today there’s virtually no river traffic, but back in 1912, the Miami Canal was dredged and connected Lake Okeechobee to the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. This allowed heavy commercial usage of the canal allowing farmers to transport oranges and other crops from the lake region to South Florida and beyond. Due to the heavy boat traffic, a bridge tender was required and a small house was created on the Hialeah side as his residence. The video below shows how this bridge was manually operated and swung on its side.
The single-span swing bridge features a Warren pony truss with verticals that include steel beam top and bottom chords and end posts, angles in the vertical posts and diagonals, rigid connections, and gusset plates. Rather than placing the pivot pier in the usual location at mid-channel, the bridge was built as a bob-tail swing span with the pivot pier located near the northern bank (Hialeah side) to provide extra clearance for vessels using the canal.
In 1941 the South Florida Water Management District introduced a saltwater intrusion control dam near NW 36th Street. This ended the commercial use of the canal. The bridge’s original design remained unchanged until 1941, when the structure was widened six feet. The “swing mechanism was removed and the swing span foundation reconstructed. The pivot cap was enlarged and twelve treated timber piles were added as support.” The rack and pinion of the swing mechanism was removed, and the bridge was widened in 1941. The wooden sidewalks originally appended to the outside of the truss also were removed in 1941.
In 1981, asphalt replaced the original wooden deck.
In 2003, FDOT rehabilitated the bridge while maintaining its historic character.
According to the FDOT, few bob-tailed spans remain in Florida. They represent a noteworthy adaptation of a major and important bridge technology. The Miami River Canal Swing Bridge also derives significance from its builder, age, technological type, and association with the rapid growth of Hialeah and Miami Springs during the 1920s. This bridge represents a central symbol of the downtown centers of the communities it connects. This bridge has been designated as a historic site by the cities of Miami Springs and Hialeah.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the Warren Pony Swing Bridge on the Miami Canal has an overall structure length of 112 feet.
HISTORICAL PHOTOS WARREN PONY SWING BRIDGE: HIALEAH – MIAMI SPRINGS
As you can see below, the Warren Pony Swing Bridge wasn’t always the “incoming bridge.” It originally had two way traffic.
Below is a view of the Miami Canal. You can see how the piles of dirt / sand / much that was excavated from the canal and placed on both sides of the bank. This photo was taken near modern day NW 27th Avenue facing west. You can see that west of this area was all Everglades with some tree hammocks. Far to the west on the left of the canal is where modern Miami Springs would be. To the right of the canal is Hialeah. In case you’re wondering, yes. Miami Springs and Hialeah used to be part of the Everglades.