Mystery Bridge Nr. 167: Cherry Rock Bridge in Sioux Falls and the Life and Times of Carl Grinde

Photo by Alexius Horatius via wikiCommons

The Cherry Rock Bridge, one of the historic bridges that is part of the bike trail system running along the Big Sioux River in the largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls. The bridge features a combination Parker through truss with A-frame portal bracings as the main span over the river, plus a V-style pony truss approach span. It is located at the park bearing its name and has been on the National Register since 2003. The bridge was built in 1902 by Carl A. Grinde.

But who was Carl Grinde and did he actually build the bridge? This is the question in the Mystery Article being addressed right now. Here’s what we know about Mr. Grinde:

Overview of the bridge. Photo taken by Neil Krout

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Carl A. Grinde (* 9 January, 1857- † 25 March, 1943)

Carl A Grinde was born on January 9th, 1857 in Sogn in Norway. He was the youngest of four children, which consisted of two sisters and a brother. At the age of only three months, he and his family left Norway for America, where the family first settled in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, where they established a farmstead there. At the age of 12, he and his family moved to Minnesota, where they created a home in Fillmore County. It was there that Carl met the love of his life Bertha Gutterson and got married in 1876. Together over their lifetime, they had a total of 13 children. In 1880, the family moved to their final destination, Minnehaha County, where they settled down in Taopi Township where Colton is located. They had a farm there before the family moved to Colton in 1912. It was in Minnehaha County that Carl left his mark in the areas of politics, law enforcement, education and engineering.

How?

His primary career was a clerk, where he had a total of 32 years in his career, 17 as he school clerk and 15 as the clerk official for the township. For two years each, he was justice of the peace- similar to the present-day role of criminal judge- assessor, state legislator,  school board member and lastly road supervisor- equivalent to the present-day highway engineer responsible for roads and bridges. He was also the co-founder of Farmers Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company, where he would eventually serve as Vice President. That insurance company exists today as it has offices in DeSmet and Aberdeen.

Builder’s Plaque on the portal bracings. Photo by Neil Krout

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But what about his role in bridge building? This is where we return to the Cherry Rock Bridge.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the bridge was constructed in 1902 when Grinde was roads supervisor. Newspaper articles have singled him out as a bridge builder nor was there any information about his training as a bridge engineer. Yet on the bridge plaque on the portal bracings, it stated another bridge builder one should include another actor in the mix, Charles R. Ross. When looking for information about him, there was next to no information about his career as a bridge builder, except to say that he was also involved in the design construction of a bridge and dam in 1909 in Pembina, North Dakota, which is at the Canadian border. It is unknown if he had his own bridge building business at that time or if he was an agent for a bridge building firm. He has no affiliation to Charles Ross Moore who was a prominent businessman from Dallas who founded the Austin Bridge Company in 1918. That company is now part of Austin Industries. This leads to the question of who had the bigger role in bridge building: Mr. Grinde or Mr. Ross?

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Carl Grinde passed away on 25 March, 1943, leaving behind his wife, nine of his 13 children and 21 grandchildren. He was 86.  His wife Bertha followed suit at the age of 83 on 2 June that same year. Both are buried at St. Angsar Cemetary in Colton. While Grinde may not have had a big influence as a bridge builder, he left his mark in other fields in his area of residence. Sometimes one doesn’t need fame to leave his mark on a large scale. One can do that locally and sometimes leaving a legacy at home will be remembered by the next generations not by how many areas of interest but one where heexcels well in. That was Carl Grinde, a typical hero for rural America.

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Special thanks to Melissa Brand Welch for finding some information on Carl Grinde. If anyone has some information on the history of Charles R. Ross and his life, feel free to use this contact form and send me the information. Every little bit will help. Thanks! 🙂

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