The Little Golden Gate Bridge in Arkansas

There's a miniature Golden Gate Bridge few people know about in Beaver, Arkansas. Although only 554 feet long and 11 feet wide, it is a working bridge carrying Hwy 187 across the White River in one of the most scenic area's in all of Arkansas. It is the last remaining suspension bridge in this part of the country.

You have to be careful driving across this famous bridge as it is only one lane wide so you have to be considerate of any cars coming across from the other side, but in the sleepy little town of Beaver there's not much traffic to worry about. It is a little unnerving though as you cross the wooden planks above the river below and hear it creaking and the whole bridge begins to wobble a bit. It's held up since 1949 so you should be safe - probably.

The state highway department has made plans several times to tear it down to make room for a new, modern bridge, but the locals and area historians were quick to organize and effectively protest each time so the plans were scrapped. It's been 7 years now since the bridge had to be saved, but the Save The Bridge organization remains ever vigilant and ready to defend the bridge again should the need arise.

To see The Little Golden Gate Bridge, take AR 187 which runs from AR 23 to U.S. 62 between Holiday Island and Rogers. When you get to Beaver, you can't miss it. Bring your camera and maybe a picnic lunch to take a nice break in the little park beside the river at the bridge.

The bridge is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places

Jim Tarver, Texas Giant

They say everything is bigger in Texas so it shouldn't come as a surprise that in 1880 there were 4 brothers from White Rock, Texas, each 7' 11" that toured with the Barnum & Bailey circus as the "Texas Giants." In the early 1900's, the Texas Giants left the circus and were replaced by a man from Terrell, Texas, "Tex" Baker, who grew 11 inches in just 7 months. He stopped growing, but when he did, he was 8' 2" tall. In 1909, another Texan, Jim Tarver who was born on a ranch in Franklin, joined the circus. Billed as "The Texas Giant," he stood 8' 6" and weighed 460 pounds. He was declared to be the tallest man in the world.

When asked how he came to be in the circus, he said he was working as a cowboy on a Texas ranch until he got bigger than his horse. About that time, the circus came to town and he went to see it with a couple of his friends. When he proved to be taller than the "World's Tallest Man" at the sideshow, the circus hired him.

For almost 24 years, the Texas Giant made a very nice living as he traveled with the circus. In addition to his relatively large salary, he made extra money selling souvenir rings that were the exact same size as the one he wore through which a half-dollar coin could pass. He bought a car which had to be customized for him by removing the front seat so he could drive from the rear one. Always gentle and amiable, he often astonished onlookers by standing by the driver's door of his car and opening the door for his passenger by reaching over the top of the car. 

Jim always said he was grateful to the circus for giving him a job, but what he really wanted was to be a farmer. After a few years of being frugal with his money, he had saved enough to buy a farm in Turrell, Arkansas which is where he then went during the winters when the touring season for the circus was over. He spent some of that time making furniture which would fit his large size and enlarging doorways in his house.

In 1933 while performing in El Paso, Texas, a man named Jack Earle came to see the show. When several people said it seemed to them that Jack was taller than "The Texas Giant," the sideshow people measured him. He was indeed taller, by one inch and was hired on the spot. No longer owning the title of "Tallest Man in the World," Jim lost his circus job. He earned some money for a while by making personal appearances and landed an acting job in the role of Blunderbore, the giant in the movie Jack and the Beanstalk. Just a couple of years after the circus though, failing to generate a steady income, Jim retired to the life he had always wanted as a full-time farmer at his place in Arkansas.

After he retired, he shunned publicity and made the farm into a profitable success. His neighbors in tiny Turrell all liked and greatly respected him, the area's children all flocked to him and evidently unmarried women were attracted to him as well. He was married 3 times - his first wife divorced him because she found it too difficult to live with his over-sized furniture and his second wife died.

Jim passed away at age 72 in 1958 from complications of diabetes. His funeral was attended by hundreds of friends. The Texas Giant was laid to rest in a custom-made casket in Crittenden Memorial Park Cemetery, 1 mile west of Marion, Arkansas. His grave is in section 5, lot 6...and 7.