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Controversial bridge remains without name

By Tami Althoff Published: May 13, 2006
TUTTLE - A four-year controversy surrounding the naming of a bridge on State Highway 4 near Tuttle ended Friday, but the bridge still has no name.

Descendants of Benson Pikey, along with Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby and other tribal dignitaries, gathered Friday morning on the banks of the Canadian River to dedicate a historical marker naming the area surrounding the bridge Pikey's Crossing.

A historical marker not what Betty Smith intended for in 2002 when she started lobbying to name the bridge after her great-great-grandfather, but it will do just fine, she said.

Text on the granite marker details the history of Pikey and serves as a reminder of the rich heritage that has been passed down from one generation to the next, Smith said.

As a child, Smith said, she listened to her mother tell stories about Benson Pikey and how he operated Pikey's Crossing in the 1800s.

Pikey, along with his family, operated the low-water crossing that spanned the same portion of the Canadian River where the bridge now stands. When Pikey died in 1895, his family continued to operate the crossing until 1923.

The naming of the bridge, which connects Tuttle and Mustang, has been a controversial topic since the bridge opened in 2002.

Pikey's descendants argued the bridge should be named after their ancestor, while others in the area thought the bridge should be named after Harry Schrock, who operated a ferry across the river in the 1920s.

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