Most people who have been in or around Waco know and love our historic Suspension Bridge, and realize its importance to the Chisholm Trail. What few realize is that the bridge was a source of commerce. At each end of the bridge there are toll booths that were used to collect fees beginning January 1, 1870, the day the bridge opened to the public. On this day, there was an entry in the ledger for $60 collected in tolls. A subsequent deposit, on January 10, was $70, and from that point on toll receipts ranged from $30-$50 daily.
The rates of toll as provided for in the original charter granted by the legislature had read as follows:
“For each wagon, cart, carriage or other vehicle drawn by more than two horses or other animals, not more than twenty cents per wheel and five cents for each animal by which the same is drawn; and when the same is drawn by two animals or less, ten cents per wheel and five cents for each animal; for each animal and rider, ten cents; for each loose horse, mule, jack or jennet, five cents; for each loose animal of the cattle kind, five cents; for each foot passenger, five cents; for each sheep, hog, or goat, three cents; and for all citizens of McLennan County, one-half of the above rates.”
The legislature was as complicated then as it is now!