- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

OARK, Ark. (AP) - A 150-foot-long swinging bridge and tourist attraction in northwest Arkansas has been swept away by floodwaters.

The bridge, which has spanned the Mulberry River for about a century between two Johnson County towns, Oark and Catalpa, was destroyed Saturday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2qsdmKL ) reported.

Denise Gosnell, who works at Oark General Store, says she checked on the bridge Saturday afternoon and found that part of it was already submerged in water.

Gosnell says tourists make the trip to Johnson County and hike the swinging bridge, 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) east of the general store.

“It’s a big sight-seeing trip,” she said. “A lot people come. It’s a big word-of-mouth thing. It’s like the burgers here. People want the burgers, and they want the bridge.”

In 2004, Cathie Brown, owner of the property where the bridge is located, said three generations have used the swinging bridge, which crosses the river and leads down a steep set of stairs.

“My grandpa built it about the turn of the (20th) century,” she said.

Over the years, the bridge has periodically been destroyed by floods, including in 2014 and 2015.

A project to stabilize the eroding stream bank on Brown’s property with help from the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership is ongoing.

“With each flood, my mother’s land is eroded more and more,” Brown’s daughter, Cammie Johnson, wrote on a GoFundMe page for the bridge in 2015. “The river is changing course, and it needs to be redirected back to its original place so that my mother will still have land. It has eroded so much that it has washed out the tree that has held the swinging bridge for years.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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