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Arkansas River Crossing

Location: Warren Riverview Park, 321 E. Market St. 

In 1871, Dr. Henry Clay Tucker arrived in this area from Ohio and began practicing medicine. With no bridge across the Arkansas River, he often swam across to tend to patients west of the river. 

In 1873, an influx of people to El Paso, Kansas (renamed Derby in 1956) meant a bridge was needed to replace the ferrying of people, wagons and cattle across the river. After W. J. Hobson secured long timbers for the pilings, the El Paso Bridge opened to the public. Even though the tolls established by county commissioners for this bridge may seem reasonable to us today (25 cents for a wagon with two horses, plus 10 cents for each additional horse or ox), many townspeople didn’t want to pay. They continued to ford the river north of the bridge at a rocky area that allowed a safe crossing. This “rocky ford” was commonly known and became the basis for the name Rockford Township. 

Eventually, the bridge washed away, and in 1878 voters of Rockford Township approved $5,000 in bonds to build a new bridge. While several bridges have been built at this site since then, this site remains the original Arkansas River crossing for the first residents of Derby and areas south. In 2000, Sedgwick County built the current Purple Heart Bridge and named it in honor of the sacrifices made by our military heroes for our nation’s freedom. 

In 2018, the City of Derby opened Warren Riverview Park, named to honor the legacy of Ray and Virginia Warren’s commitment to outdoor family activities and Boy Scouts, as well as their dedication to the Derby community since moving here in 1955. The park site previously served the city for decades with wastewater treatment and public works facilities.

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