MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 7, 2011

Bridge to be renamed in tribute to famed lawman

— An area bridge will soon bear the name of one of Muskogee’s most famous lawmen.

A dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Three Forks Harbor to honor Bass Reeves, whom state Sen. Earl Garrison called the area’s “most outstanding law enforcement officer.”

Reeves, born as a slave in 1838 in Arkansas, spent the last 10 years of his life as an officer in the Muskogee Police Department. He died in 1910 at age 71.

The bridge that crosses the Arkansas River between Muskogee and Fort Gibson will be named the Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge.

“This is a fitting tribute to a true Muskogee legend,” Garrison said. “They’ve made two ‘True Grit’ movies, but here is a man who actually lived that story. He was legendary.”

Garrison said Reeves spent 32 years working in Indian Territory and even arrested his own son for murder.

“The Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge is a fitting tribute, we think,” he said. “We read in the paper about a lot of negative things, but here is a man who contributed to a better life for Oklahomans.”

Brianne Cormier of the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce said Muskogee residents won’t be the only people to witness the bridge’s dedication.

“Some of (Reeves’) family from Atlanta will be here for the unveiling,” she said. “It’s going to be a really nice event. At the end, we will be unveiling the signage under the bridge.”

Garrison said the project to name the bridge was met with “overwhelming” support from the start.

“Both the House and Senate passed it without one dissenting vote,” he said. “A lot of people helped. Our entire black delegation at the Capitol enthusiastically supported this.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHAT: Bass Reeves Memorial Bridge dedication

WHERE: Three Forks Harbor

WHEN: 11 a.m. Wednesday

INFORMATION: (918) 682-2401

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