The Covered Bridges of Frederick County — Bike Walk Drive

Over the river and through the wood, to Grandmother’s house we go; the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow. When we sang that ditty in grammar school at Thanksgiving time, our imaginary sleigh surely crossed that river on a covered bridge. Snow had been shoveled onto its […]

The Covered Bridges of Frederick County — Bike Walk Drive

Historic Bridge in North Dakota Destroyed by Overweight Tractor

Photo by J. Lance in 2009

SAWYER/ VELVA, NORTH DAKOTA- One person was hurt and a historic bridge is all but a pile of twisted metal thanks to an overweight tractor pulling a trailor.  The incident happened on October 9th in the evening at the Schilling Truss Bridge, spanning the Souris River at the McHenry-Ward County border between the towns of Sawyer and Velva.  41-year old Kris Walcker was driving a John Deere tractor with a trailor across the bridge, which had a weight limit of a maximum of 21 tons. It is unknown how much over the limit the tractor and trailor were at the time of the collapse. Walcker went through the decking and brought down the truss span, resulting in damages to the tractor and trailor plus personal injury. The bridge itself was considered a total loss.

The Schilling Bridge was built in 1940, but because of its pinned connections, which were phased out 20 years earlier, it was likely that the bridge was relocated here from an unknown location that year. The builder was the Fargo Bridge and Iron Company, which was one of the primary bridge builders in North Dakota for the first two decades of the 20th Century. The bridge had a total length of 132 feet, the 7-panel Pratt through truss span was 128 feet. Its portal was A-framed.

The accident is currently under investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the bridge will be closed until a replacement structure can be built in place. A detour is in place through Velva, which is four miles west of the former crossing as well as going north two miles on ND Hwy. 41. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on the bridge.