Butterfield Stage Days

The first weekend in May

When the Butterfield Overland  Mail passed through Wise County and beyond in  1858 - 61, crossing the West Fork of the Trinity River was a necessity.    Colonel W. H. Hunt obtained a charter to  build a toll bridge constructed of cottonwood timbers.  

However, his bridge soon collapsed.    By this time a small settlement had begun at this crossing.    Charles D. Cates, a Decatur merchant, constructed an iron bridge.   It is assumed that the town of Bridgeport got its name because it served as a  port for those traveling up and down the river.  Bridgeport soon became a bustling community.  The Butterfield Stage Days was initiated to preserve the spirit of the past.
Photographs of a Typical Butterfield Stage Day
Heritage Museum Benefit Event

Usually Held in Late Summer

The Museum Benefit party is an annual event to raise funds for the Heritage Museum. David & Sue Ray host the party which includes a five-course dinner. The party is set up around the Ray's swimming pool which over looks beautiful Lake Bridgeport.
Photographs of a Typical Heritage Museum Benefit Party
Coal Miner's Heritage Festival

The First Weekend in October

While drilling a water well, Mr. Cates struck a rich vein of coal  sixty feet below the earth’s surface. Unknown to him at

that time this would be the forerunner of an industry that supported  the town of Bridgeport  for about forty years.

The Wise County Coal Company was  chartered August 23, 1882, by C.D. Cates, J.C. Carpenter, J. H. Halsell,   J. J. Long, Sam Levy, Henry Greathouse, J. M. Holmes, and Dan Waggoner.    In 1900, the firm was purchased by Colonel William H. Ashton of Virginia who changed the name to Bridgeport Coal Co., which employed five hundred employees at its peak.   In 1929, the mines closed due to the increase of  oil and gas.  During this time the town moved one mile  east.

With the closing of the mines, many people left, but some stayed and worked at the brick plant , rock crusher, and railroad.  The very last mine, the Singleton Mine, closed in 1942. Even though the mines are gone,  coal remains buried under the town of Bridgeport.

Realizing how important coal mining was to this community, the Bridgeport Historical Society’s Arts and Crafts Fair  and Coal Mine Day  were fused together to become the annual celebration now know as Coal Miner’s Heritage Festival.

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