A First-of-a-Kind Bridge Opens in the Evergreen State — Transportation History

January 20, 1908 In the north-central region of the State of Washington, the first highway bridge in the United States crossing the Columbia River was officially opened. The Columbia River Bridge, which was built by the Washington Bridge Company over the course of two years, has provided an important link between the city of Wenatchee in […]

A First-of-a-Kind Bridge Opens in the Evergreen State — Transportation History

Coquille River Bridge — Lynn and Judy’s Bridge Walking Blog

Our 8th Bridge. Bandon, March 26, 2020. This bridge, known locally as the Bullards Bridge, crosses the Coquille River close to where yesteryear’s cars crossed on the Bullards Ferry. It was designed and built as a vertical lift bridge in order to allow vessels to pass under on their 20 mile upriver journey to Coquille. […]

Coquille River Bridge — Lynn and Judy’s Bridge Walking Blog

Kern Bridge Stays Home in Mankato

Longest Bowstring Arch Bridge in the States Stays in Mankato, to be Re-erected between Sibley and Land of Memories Parks

MANKATO, MINNESOTA- What was built from home stays home. That is the slogan behind the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, a 189-foot long product of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, which was built over the LeSeuer River on a township road south of Mankato in 1873. Until last year, the bridge stood in its place until efforts were undertaken to dismantle and remove the structure because of a failing abutment.

Now, the bridge is staying put, but will be the centerpiece, crossing over the Blue Earth River connecting two of Mankato’s largest parks.

The 148-year-old historic iron structure will span the Blue Earth River between two of the city’s largest parks, providing a pedestrian and bike crossing that also will fill a gap in the local trail system, and create a vital link between the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail on Mankato’s northeast side and Minneopa State Park to the southwest. “From an engineering perspective, it’s an exciting project, but it’s also one that’s great for our community and the region on whole,” said Assistant City Engineer Michael McCarty in an interview with the Mankato Free Press. He was in charge of putting together the winning application in an eight-way competition for the one-of-a-kind bridge. Four finalists had submitted full applications to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) for the structure. Aside from Mankato, the other three finalists came from Watonwan County, Fergus Falls and Sherburne County. “It was a close race. The applications were all really good,” said historian Katie Haun Schuring of MnDOT’s Cultural Resources Unit, one of the members of the steering committee of engineers and historians that ultimately decided Mankato’s plan was the best. “… All of the locations would have been good. I think Mankato’s just rose to the top after a lot of great discussion.”

The decision to keep the Kern Bridge home made a lot of sense as the last surviving bridge of its kind in Minnesota is also one of the Blue Earth County’s “Seven historical wonders” when it comes to architecture that had shaped the county in the past 150 years. Furthermore, the county is diverse in the number of different types of bridges that still exist and can be seen today. They include the Dodd Ford Bridge and, the Maple River Railroad Truss Bridge both near Amboy, as well as a Marsh arch bridge and the Red Jacket Trestle. Another truss bridge, the Hungry Hollow Bridge is sitting in storage and awaiting reuse elsewhere. When people think of Blue Earth County and bridges, the Kern Bridge would definitely go on top as it was the structure that spearheaded efforts by other engineers to leave their marks over rivers and ravines while expanding the network of roads and railroads that connected Mankato with Minneapolis and other points to the north and east.

Along with the wrought-iron bridge, now disassembled and stored in shipping containers, Mankato will be receiving federal funding that will cover 80% of the $1.8 million cost of reassembling it. According to the Free Press, numerous regulatory hurdles will need to be cleared because of the historic nature of the bridge, the need to build piers in the Blue Earth River, the existence of the flood-control system in the area, the design work on the bridge approaches, and the regulations related to federal funding. The Kern Bridge will be the main span over the river but will be flanked by steel gorders which will make the historic structure the centerpiece for the two parks. If all goes well, the bridge will be back in service by 2024 but as a pedestrian and bike crossing.

And while its 150th birthday celebration will most likely be in storage, the reestablishment and reopening of the longest bowstring arch bridge, combined with its reinstatement as a National Landmark, will serve as a much-deserved belated birthday gift in itself. Even the best things come if we wait long enough and work to make it happen. 🙂


The Kern Bridge finished second in the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards in the category Bridge of the Year because of the efforts to save the structure from its potential collapse.


The news came just as the Newsflyer podcast was released. To listen to the other news stories, click here.


BHC Newsflyer: 28 January 2021

Geestmünde Swing Bridge in Bremerhaven, Germany- the oldest known swing bridge in the country. Photo source: Mueck, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To listen to the podcast on the Newsflyer, click here and you will be directed to the Anchor website.


  1. Oldest swing bridge in Germany to get a thorough facelift
  2. Schierstein Viaduct between Mainz and Wiesbaden nearing Completion
  3. Covered Bridge in Indiana to be Rebuilt at a New Location
  4. Historic Newport Transporter Bridge to be Restored after receiving Grant
  5. Bridge and Conveyor Belt in Ashtabula, Ohio on the demolition block
  6. Public Meeting to discuss future of two historic bridges in Shannon County, Missouri
  7. Remembering Richard M. Simpson III Indiana Transportation History
  8. Endangered TRUSS Article: Jefferson Highway Bridge in Okay, OK (Click here to read)
Newport Transporter Bridge. Source: WelshDave, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


HYB: Orient Bridge in Pickaway County, Ohio

One bridge that a person should visit while bridgehunting is this structure: The Orient Bridge. Located south of Harrisburg, this unique truss structure can be seen easily from Darby Creek Road where County Road 26 and Ohio State Highway 726 meet. The 225-foot long bridge features a Whipple through truss span with one of the most ornamental features of a portal bracing one will see while looking for bridges in Ohio. The portal bracing features from the top down, trapezoidal beam with four-leaf pedestals carved out, followed by a one-rhombus Lattice with ornaments at the Xes, and lastly a Town Lattice with heels. Builders plaque is on the top tier as well as finials that look like an ornamental bowl set with covers. Built in 1885 by the Cleveland Bridge and Iron Company, the Orient Bridge represents the most ornamental example of a bridge built by this bridge building company. Ironically, another bridge built by the same company, can be found in Paoli, Indiana. There, a female truck driver tried driving across the truss bridge causing it to collapse. Fortunately, the bridge has been restored to its original glory.

Here are some more bridge facts you will find in a video recently produced by History in Your Own Backyard.

Some other stories and facts you can find through bridgehunter.com and historicbridges.org. Just click on the highlighted words and you will be directed to the respective sites. Enjoy the info and hope you will take a chance to visit the bridge on your next road trip. 🙂

Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂


Photo courtesy of Satolli Glassmeyer.

Endangered TRUSS: The Jefferson Highway Bridge at Okay, Oklahoma

All photos courtesy of Mark W. Brown


OKAY, OKLAHOMA- There are many historic structures that are endangered because of the need to have a concrete bridge to move traffic from point A to point B. There are some that have been sitting abandoned- many of which for too long and need the attention of the public to save it from its ultimate doom. When I think of the first endangered TRUSS candidate, the first bridge that comes to mind is this one: The Okay Truss Bridge. The bridge spans the old channel of the Verdigris River to the west of the town of Okay in Wagoner County. The structure was first discovered a decade ago and even though it has been abandoned for several decades, records have indicated that the structure was once part of the Jefferson Highway, the second oldest intercontinental highway that was built in 1915 and went from Winnepeg, Canada to New Orleans, cutting through parts of Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma in the process.

There is not much information on the bridge’s history except to say that given the materials needed to build the structure, let alone the features, the bridge must have been built between 1910 and 1915, as part of the project to extend the Jefferson Highway through the small community. The bridge features two Parker through truss main spans. Each span features a 3-rhombus Howe Lattice portal bracings with angled heels, latticed struts and V-laced vertical beams. There is also a Pratt pony truss span on each outer end of the bridge. The connections are pinned and the material: steel for the trusses and wood for the decking.

Westernmost pony truss approach span


The bridge was later bypassed by another structure to the south, as part of the project to rechannel the Verdigris and the truss span has been sitting abandoned and in disarray ever since. The easternmost pony truss span collapsed many years ago and it would take a lot of climbing just to get onto the bridge itself.

The gravest problem though lies with the through truss spans because of a failing pier. It is unknown when and how this occurred, but the center pier is crumbling, causing the end post of the western through truss span to slip.

While the damage may be minimal when looking at it from a bird’s eye view, when on the bridge, it is far worse than it seems, as the crumbling pier, combined with the sagging of the endpost, is causing the western truss span to lean and twist on its side.

The twisted metal brought a reminder of one bridge that fell victim to flooding in 1990, which was the Rockport Bridge in Arkansas. Prior to its downfall, flooding in 1987 caused severe damage to the center piers causing the center span to tilt and twist. This is exactly what is happening to the Okay Truss Bridge, and if nothing is done with the truss span, the next flooding may be the bridge’s last.

What can be done to save the truss bridge? The easiest is to take the truss spans off the piers and dismantle them for storage. As it happened with the Bridgeport Bridge in Michigan, the twisted western Parker truss span could be straightened through welding, whereas the trusses in general would need to be sandblasted and repainted. The piers would need to be replaced and because the easternmost pony span is considered a total loss, a replacement span could take its place if one reerects the restored truss span and converts the area on the east end and the island between the old and new channels of the Verdigris into a park area. As this bridge is part of the original Jefferson Highway, research is needed on the structure’s history to nominate it to the National Register.

Oklahoma has seen a big drop in the number of truss bridges in the last two decades, yet efforts are being taken to save what is left of the bridges. There is little doubt that the Okay Truss Bridge can be saved if action is taken to salvage the trusses and rebuild the entire structure, while erecting a park to honor its history. It takes the will of not only the locals but also members of the Jefferson Highway Association to make it happen. Yet time is running out and we’re fighting windmills regarding even saving the truss structure before the next floodwaters. If there is a tiny sense of hope, removing and storing the trusses should be top priority. Afterwards, time and finances could be allotted to restore and rebuild the bridge to its former glory.


Author’s Note: A big thanks to Mark W. Brown for allowing me to use his pictures for this article.


BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 131- A Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week series that pays tribute to James Baughn also pays tribute to one of the bridges he photographed that lost its life to stupidity.  The Westphalia Bridge spans the Maries River, NE of Westphalia in Osage County, Missouri. The longest span, a Pratt through truss with pinned connections and Lattice portal bracings, was built by the Kansas City Bridge Company in 1893 and has a total length of 145 feet. The three pony truss spans- consisting of two Pratt half-hips and a subdivided V-laced span, were added by the Interstate Bridge Company in Kansas City in 1902. Together, the total length of the bridge was 279 feet, with the width being 13.8 feet.  The bridge had a total weight of only five tons- and no trucks allowed!

And that was what led to the collapse of the structure on August 17, 2020. A 28 ton rig tried crossing the bridge only to fail after the first few feet! The reason for crossing the bridge on the part of the trucker: He was only following the GPS!

There are two ways to react to this: The first is lecturing him about road signs and their existence, like in this famous song produced 50 years ago by the Five Man Electrical Band:

But even then, sometimes stupidity requires extreme action. You can change stupidity if you defame the person for his actions on the international level and make him pay for it. Therefore, we decided to give this driver, who won the Author’s Choice Awards in the category of Bonehead Story, the Timmy.

The Timmy is when everyone congregates for a few seconds, then gangs up on the person and yells as loud as possible the following:

One!…..Two!!……Three!!!….. DUH!!!!!

After seeing too many stories about people not doing the math and the lame excuses that follow, not to mention reading up on the lack of attention paid to the signs, it is time to show these people that math and physics are important, but also logical thinking! When there is a five ton limit on a bridge and your truck weighs 28 tons, you don’t rely on your GPS and move forward, taking the risk. You ask for alternative directions.  You ask for HELP, DAMMIT!!!

And so, to this poor soul who relied too much on the GPS and too little with the math and physics, this one’s for you:

One!…..Two!!……Three!!!….. DUH!!!!!

To all you folks out there: Make damn sure you do the Timmy to the next dumbass who tries to do what this guy did to the Westphalia Bridge, and to all the stupid, retarded drivers who have destroyed many prized works in the past five years, which is one way too many.

If the truck’s too high, don’t cross it.

If the truck’s overweight, don’t cross it.

If in doubt and cannot do the math correctly, don’t cross it.

In fact if you are a driver and you see a restriction ahead, don’t cross it!

Do the math and don’t cross it! DUH!!!!




That’s more profanity than I usually use in my column 😉

2020 Bridgehunter Awards- Final Results Part 2

Frank J. Wood Bridge at night time, full of lights. The bridge won the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards for Bridge of the Year. Photo taken by Janice Robbins



After looking at the results of the 2020 Bridgehunter Awards for Best Bridge Photo, Part 2 shows you the results in the remaining categories. The commentary behind the results will appear in the BHC Podcast, which you can click here to listen to. To read the results of the Author’s Choice Award, click here. The tables appear in slideshow format…

Due to some technical issues with the polling platform, the Chronicles will use a different voting platform for its 2021 Bridgehunter Awards to ensure that the voting is carried out with no problems. The Chronicles apologizes for the inconvenience.

To those who won in their respective categories, congratulations! You deserve the award and will be recognized accordingly! 🙂

Crossing the Stillwater Lift Bridge: Winner of Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge



With the crossing of the Lift Bridge comes the end of the 2020 Bridgehunter and Author’s Choice Awards. 2021 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Awards and details can be found here. Entries are being taken between now and December 1, 2021 with voting to commence afterwards. If you have an entry worth considering, please send it to the Chronicles also informing them in which category(-ies). If you are not sure of the categories, you can check out the link by clicking here.


Wishing you all the very best for 2021! 😀 Remember, it all gets better from here. Happy Bridgehunting until we meet again. 🙂 ❤