Since 1926, a swinging bridge has connected two parts of this Oklahoma town

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PAWHUSKA, OKLAHOMA -- Back in his own 'Summer of '42,' John Reber would have carried a swimsuit and town on his way to Bill Evans pool.

"Of course there's been new development here through the years," he states while strolling down Kihekah Avenue.

That walk would have carried him south of downtown Pawhuska to the banks of Bird Creek, and across what, even then, was an old pedestrian bridge suspended 30 feet above the water.

"Oh. My memories are clear of walking across here and going up to swim," he says. "Later on, that became a country club."

Back in the days, when fewer people had cars and one of the only bridges across Bird Creek had train tracks on it, city fathers thought it would be a good idea to connect residents who lives across the creek with the town itself.

"They used to have to walk all the way around," says nearby resident Maurice Roberts.

Roberts says this bridge was a big improvement to the low water crossing upstream, and more fun too.

"I used to fish off that swinging bridge," he continues. "All up and down the sides there."

Reber eventually settled in Pawhuska and still marvels hat he can walk across this span after so many years.

"Good golly," he smiles. "I remember so many things. I thought this was the greatest place I'd ever seen. I came from the country."

If you're afraid of heights or spindly cables you might want to drive around, but the city restored this span in 1970 and they've maintained it since.

Reber says, "A lot of the tour buses want to know, 'Where is the swinging bridge'?"

Squeaks and groans, planks a little split and askew, Bird Creek crossers usually hurry back the way they came these days.

John Reber lingers just long enough to keep those old memories fresh for the next time he chances to walk this way.

"It's fabulous," he smiles.

Reber had a long career as Pawhuska High School's band director.

He retired in 1987 to take up another career as a tour bus operator.

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