Riverside Bridge Reset at a New Home

The Riverside Bridge being put into place at Finley Farms. Source: 407 Drone Imaging

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OZARK, MISSOURI- Ten years ago at this time, the community of Ozark, Missouri, with the help of many dedicated pontists from all over the US and Europe, came together to save a historic gem of a bridge, which had spanned Finley Creek at Riverside Drive- a product of the Canton Bridge Company of Ohio, built in 1909. An organization was formed in 2010 to save the two-span Pratt through truss bridge and to this day, this organization has almost 3000 members. The bridge was one of the main attractions of the 2011 Historic Bridge Weekend in August, together with the bridges of St. Louis and Kansas City, as well as the Gasconade Bridge and the now demolished structure at Enochs Knob. It was where old friends from high school reunited and new friends were made, some of which we are still in contact to this day.

Riverside Bridge at its original location before its first restoration project in 2013. Photo taken at the HB Weekend in 2011

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It was through these efforts that the Riverside Bridge was restored in its place and reopened in 2013. It took another challenge through a monstrous flood in 2015 and the knee jerk reaction of the special road district officials and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to turn to removing the bridge because of damage to the piers and parts of the bridge deck.

Enter Bass Pro and Finley Farms who fell in love with the bridge and decided it would be a wonderful accessory to their facility. Since March 30th, 2021, the truss bridge is up and over Finley Creek again, yet in a new home 1.3 miles from its original location. Crews lifted the two-span bridge onto new piers, one truss span at a time, in a ceremonial event which brought friends, families, locals and bridge lovers together, including Kris Dyer, who heads the organization devoted to saving the historic structure, and Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro and Finley Farms who made it happen, not just through money and power, but with dedication and love.

Once the decking is put into place and the path is in place, the bridge will serve as key connection between Ozark Mill- a grain mill that dates back to the 1830s- and the wedding chapel. It will be a popular attraction not only for weddings and other formal events, but also for tourists who want to see the entire Finley Farms complex, with its historic buildings and experiencing living history including the local delicacies. The Riverside Bridge will have the company of another two-span through truss bridge that was built 13 years later (in 1922) by the Pioneer Bridge Company and features Baltimore spans. For a true pontists, a day trip to Ozark Mill and to the two bridges will be well worth it. For families, it is an experience with lots of memories! 🙂 ❤

The Riverside Bridge in the background and the Ozark Mill Bridge in the foreground. Source: 407 Drone Imaging

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From a columnist’s point of view, the restoration of the Riverside Bridge would not be possible without the support of locals, historians and people who wish to keep the bridge and consider its value as a tourist sttraction. We have seen many structures disappear because there was a lack of support among the public and connections through businesses and the local government. Speaking from personal experience, having the interest in the bridge’s history, let alone a plan on how to reuse the structure once its days as a vehicular crossing, are keys to winning the support needed and making the efforts to saving the bridge possible. It takes a lot of marketing efforts, wit and especially patience to pull it off. If one party says it’s impossible, the other has to counter with not only a why, but also a reason why restoring a bridge is possible. One can learn from the experience of those who have been successful in their efforts but also those who tried and failed for whatever reason it may be (mostly, they are political).

Both spans in place. Now comes the decking. Source: 407 Drone Imaging

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The Riverside Bridge represents a classic example of a bridge that got the love and support of the local community to save but also connections and a good plan to make the preservation happen. When we started on the campaign in 2010, we had a lot of ideas on how the bridge could be kept into place and shared lots of success stories with Kris (Dyer) and others involved to give them ideas on how it could be done. We did fundraisers and even produced some shirts dedicated to saving the bridge, two of which I bought and are still at home in Germany. 🙂 After the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011, the local government stepped in, realizing that the bridge was indeed a valuable commodity to the community, and the bridge was subsequentially restored and reopened to traffic.

The flooding of 2013 put the bridge in danger again due to damage to the piers and there was doubt that it could ever be restored because it would have required the bridge to be raised to meet certain flood level requirements. Also, the historic Riverside Inn, which had been closed for many years, had to be removed as part of the plan to have a flood plain. That area is now a park next to the replacement structure, opened to traffic last year.

Photo taken in 2011

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Still, the love for the bridge did not wane and thanks to our efforts in 2011, new actors came in with a plan to not only save the bridge but also find a new home for it. While buying a bridge for a buck ($1) is the easiest way to save a structure, that’s just the start. A good plan for moving it or even converting it to a park just off the road where the replacement structure is needed as well ensurance that the bridge is safe for use. In the case of Riverside Bridge, the idea of showcasing it in an area flanked by a mill and nearby parks was the best idea and the safest way to preserve the structure and prevent its ultimate doom. What is needed is a bit of love, creative ideas and also back-up plans in case plan A failed to bear fruit. Most importantly, it needs the support from the community and businesses who are willing work with the project to ensure future generations will enjoy it. The Riverside Bridge, who is up for its second Bridgehunter Award in the Category Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge this winter, represents just that.

When there is a will, there is a way. The slogan for saving the bridge, for a second time. While many historic bridges have met their doom despite efforts to save them, there are others that are still in the fight to be preserved and reused for future generations. There’s a lot to learn from the Riverside Bridge experience, something that can be used for other projects. And if there is a doubt, Ozark is in southwestern Missouri near Springfield. Have a look at Finley Farms and its new accessory and you will see success in historic bridge preservation right in front of you. 🙂

Article and website in connection with the event:

https://eu.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2021/03/30/bass-pro-finley-farms-touts-raising-historic-riverside-bridge-ozark/4799036001/

Finley Farms: https://finleyfarmsmo.com/

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Quick Fact: This will be the third home of Riverside Bridge, yet as it was built at the Ozark Mill site in 1909, it’s a welcome home celebration. It had first served the mill until the Baltimore truss bridge replaced it in 1924 and it was relocated to the site at Riverside Dr.

The Author would like to thank 407 Drone Imaging for use of the photos, plus to Kris Dyer, Bill Hart, Todd Wilson, Nathan Holth and the community of Ozark and Christian County for many years of efforts, ideas and all for making it happen not only once but twice. Also a shout out to the heavens to James Baughn, who is probably watching this right now with the Lord at his side, enjoying some shots and a good beer. This one’s for you, bud. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 148: Tribute to James Baughn- Easter Edition Part 2

Quinn Creek Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken by James Baughn

This edition on Easter Sunday is the second of a two-part Easter weekend special. Again, this one’s for James Baughn.

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Our 148th Pic of the Week takes us to Fayette County in Iowa. Speaking from my personal visit in 2011 and again in 2013, if there is a county that has at least a dozen truss bridges that are still standing, it’s this county in northeastern Iowa. 18 truss bridges make up the landscape, eight of which are nationally recognized as historic, including the Dietzenbach Bottom (a.k.a. Mill Race), West Auburn, Major Road, Eldorado, Fox Road, Albany, Lima, and this bridge: the Quinn Creek Kingpost Truss Bridge.

View of Quinn Creek Bridge (in Fayette County) from a distance. Photo taken by James Baughn.

Before 2013, no one knew whether this bridge still existed. It had been mentioned in historic bridge surveys, including one conducted by the late James Hippen in the 1970s. Many thought this bridge no longer existed. Yet it was discovered during the 2013 Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa, and it was both James Baughn and another bridge lover, Dave King, who found this bridge, located just off 300th Street, between Granite Road and Fortune Road. Although replaced by culverts, this unique crossing still stands to this day as an example of early American engineering and one that is considered, in my mind, a national monument, ranking it to the likes of the Bollmann Truss Bridge in Savage, Maryland, the Melan Arch Bridge in Rock Rapids, Iowa and even the suspension bridges of New York City, just to name a few.

Quinn Creek Kingpost Bridge in Fayette County, Iowa. Photo taken in August 2013 by James Baughn

This bridge was built in 1885 and features a kingpost through truss, the connectons are pinned. The portals are X-frame supported by curved heels that are subdivided. The end posts are V-laced. The structure is 60 feet long. Records indicate that Horace E. Horton had built the bridge, for he was the primary bridge builder during that time. According to HABS/HAER/HALS records, Horton, whose bridge building company was based in Rochester, Minnesota, had built all but a couple truss bridges in Fayette County during his time as contractor in the last two decades of the 19th Century. His atypical bridge designs made him a household name and he was responsible for numerous structures in six states, including Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Counting this structure, there are five bridges left in the country that have Horton’s name on it, including another bridge in Fayette County, the West Auburn Bridge.

Since the discovery of the truss bridge in 2013, the Quinn Creek Bridge has become a popular bridge and one in the spotlight for efforts are being made to preserve it in its original condition. Given the fact that it is located in a natural area, it is likely that the bridge will remain as is, unless there is interest in relocating it to a park. But no interest has come about at the time of this post. Unique about this bridge is that it has maintained its original coat of paint, which makes it very likely it will be around for a very long time. Nevertheless, the discovery of the bridge, combined with the photos, which James took in 2013, has concluded that the bridge exists. It’s just a question of listing it onto the National Register of Historic Places, where the chances of it joining the ranks of the bridge greats is more than very likely. It’s a matter of when…… 🙂

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Photo by Alena Koval on Pexels.com

Mystery Bridge Nr. 143

Our first Mystery Bridge of 2021 takes us to California, to the town of Brookdale. It’s located in Santa Cruz County towards the Pacific Coastal area, and the San Lorenzo River snakes through the community with almost 2000 inhabitants in the heavily forested hills located southwest of San Jose along Highway 9.

There are several bridges located along the San Lorenzo in and around Brookdale, many of them arch structures. But this bridge, a postcard by John Smeaton, is not on any of the list of bridges in the Santa Cruz section in bridgehunter.com. The bridge is a pony arch with lattice features and judging by the photo, the structure is no longer than 90 feet long. It sits on a high cliff which is 30-40 feet above the San Lorenzo River. There is no information on its consturction, its history, its location and whether it still exists. A couple hints of where it could be is behind Pike Street as well as around Huckleberry Island but even then, there’s no guarantee that it’s there, we just know it was one of the San Lorenzo River crossings that deserves to be recogized and listed.

If you have any information on this bridge please contact Mr. Smeaton using the contact information in the Bridgehunter.com website. You can also provide information here at the Chronicles using the contact information found in the About page.

Many thanks and best of luck in the research. Happy Bridgehunting until we meet again! 🙂

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BHC Newsflyer: 12 February, 2021

Sulphur Lake Bridge in Redwood Valley, MN- To be removed in the near future. Built in 1928 and bypassed in 1997. Photo taken in 2010

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To listen to the podcast, click here.

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Headlines in this Newflyer Podcast:

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May be an image of bridge and nature

Judge Votes for Replacement of Frank J. Wood Bridge- Preservation Group to Appeal

Article: https://www.centralmaine.com/2021/02/08/topsham-brunswick-bridge-group-to-appeal-federal-ruling/

Article on Bridges on Highway 1 Project: https://www.pressherald.com/2021/02/07/southern-midcoast-bridge-replacements-included-in-mdot-work-plan/

Please note the cost estimates of the four bridge project vary due to different information sources.

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Sulphur Lake Bridge in Redwood Valley to be Removed

Information on Project: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d8/projects/sulphurlake/index.html

Information on the Bridge Trio: http://loc.gov/pictures/item/mn0545/

!: Includes contact information.

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Historic Covered Bridge in Vermont Destroyed by Fire

Article: https://www.vnews.com/Vermont-town-hopes-to-replace-destroyed-covered-bridge-38774407

Information on the Bridge: http://bridgehunter.com/vt/orleans/101017000810171/

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Postcard of Plummer Creek Covered Bridge with the Burr Truss design. Source: Johnson Wholesale Co.

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Attempted Destruction of Covered Bridge in Indiana through Arson

Article (including contact information): https://www.wibc.com/news/local-indiana/greene-county-covered-bridge-closed-after-fire/

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/in/greene/plummer-creek/

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Photo by Steve Conro in 2012

Covered Bridge Hit for 13th Time Since Rehabilitation in 2020- Calls for Removal

Article: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/ct-lns-long-grove-bridge-crash-st-0204-20210203-shhljplk65bp3l3p2hzllv7pkq-story.html

Editorial: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/opinion/ct-lns-selle-long-grove-bridge-st-0209-20210208-asinkmjsfffufosgmrzuvma5wa-story.html?fbclid=IwAR1p3FF-dRM-LuN1SJegOOhy-HLJ6y30GlTH_jh6B7CxzF4LSI8bOVKUMdU

Bridge Info: http://bridgehunter.com/il/lake/49715027150/

!: Questionnaire on the bridge’s future on BHC’s facebook page.

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Waco Suspension Bridge. Source: Library of Congress

Original Cables of Waco Suspension Bridge to be Removed

Article: https://wacotrib.com/news/local/cable-removal-begins-on-historic-waco-suspension-bridge/article_b5924a9c-6a5b-11eb-8337-63c716ce53f8.html

Bridge Info (including rehab project): http://bridgehunter.com/tx/mclennan/waco-suspension/

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 133: Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Week tribute to James Baughn takes us out of Missouri and to neighboring Iowa. Located southeast of Mount Pleasant, the county seat of Henry County in the southeastern corner of the state is the Oakland Mills Truss Bridge. Spanning the Skunk River west of Franklin Avenue, the bridge was built in 1876 by the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company which was based in Leavenworth, Kansas. It’s one of a handful of combination spans left in the State of Iowa, featuring (from north to south) a Pratt half-hip, a wooden trestle, two Pratt through trusses and a four-panel Pratt pony. Sources indicated the trestle may have replaced a third Pratt through truss span but it hasn’t been confirmed in the bridge records. The entire truss system features pinned connections while the southern through truss span has ornamental portal bracings. The bridge was converted into a park in the 1970s and has been on the National Register of Historic Places for almost a half century.

The Missouri Valley was one of a few companies that lasted well into the modern era, having been formed in 1874. It was dissolved in 1975 after a fire destroyed the shop at its original home in Leavenworth. It was reorganized shortly afterwards but it left the bridge building business altogether. The Kansas State Historical Society did an extensive write-up on the company’s history, which you can view here. In the 101 years of business, the company constructed a wide variety of bridges, ranging from single and multiple span truss bridges to cantilever spans. It even constructed a concrete pony truss in New Mexico in 1915, one of two of its kind left in the US. 80% of all bridges built by Missouri Valley were towards the south central part of the country, concentrating on Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. Only two bridges in Iowa were reportedly built by this company, yet the Oakland Mills is the only one left in the state that’s still standing.

And it is also one of the most popular bridges to visit among bridge lovers, tourists and historians as one can make a picnic on the bridge and devote time to spending it on the bridge. Even at night, one is greeted with Christmas lighting as was my case when I visited the bridge in 2011 in the evening, on the eve of the Historic Bridge Weekend in St. Louis. But James’ pic was taken at the time of the Historic Bridge Weekend in Iowa- two years later! In my opinion, the daytime shot was better than all the shots I took because of the lighting.

Still, who’s competing? 🙂 We both agree: The bridge is worth stopping for a visit, no matter for what purpose. And if properly and regularly maintained, the bridge will be around for generations to come. ❤ 🙂

Mystery Bridge Nr. 148: Red Arrow Road Bridge (HYB)

Photo by Greg Saurbier

Our first Mystery Bridge of 2021 and the 148th in the series takes us to Michigan and the Red Arrow Highway Bridge. The bridge is 28 feet long and is located near Benton Heights, spanning Blue Creek. The bridge has been out of use for well over 110 years and is currently privately owned. Yet the bridge has a lot of ornamental features that makes visiting it a must. Satolli Glassmeyer from History in Your Own Backyard produced a film about this phantom bridge, the historic Red Arrow Highway and the history that we know to date. What we don’t know is who built it and who designed the rail piers?

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 128: Tribute to James Baughn

As I mentioned in the last Pic of the Week entry for 2020, this year’s series pays tribute to the late James Baughn, who created bridgehunter.com, the largest bridge database in the US, and also won the Bridgehunter Awards for Lifetime Achievement for 2019. Every week, we will showcase his greatest bridge pics, most of whom stem from his website.

Our first bridge pic for 2021 takes us to Butler County and the Hargrove Bridge. This bridge spans Black River near the town of Broseley and features a combination of a swing bridge span, whose towers support two truss spans. These spans are the Miller-Borcherding trusses and as we will discuss this in a separate article, they feature a three panel pony truss, whose center panel has an A-shape frame and the outer panels have a subdivided triangular chord. The bridge was built by the Miller & Borcherding Bridge Builders in St. Louis in 1917, at the time when riveted trusses were considered the standard norm for truss bridge construction. The bridge was damaged by floods in 1992 but was restored to its former glory seven years later and has since been open to traffic, but with an 8-ton weight limit. More on this bridge can be found by clicking here.

This bridge was one of James’ first to appear on his website and one of his most frequented visited structures. It is one of those structures that one should visit when learning about the history of American architecture and infrastructure, especially as many bridge builders tried to fashion truss bridge designs of their own instead of building based on the standards provided by the state beginning in 1910- namely Warren, Pratt, Parker or Pennsylvania with riveted connections in a form of gusset plates. Their argument- less steel meaning less costs for manufacturing and assembling. When visiting the bridge, you will see how much less steel it was needed to create a unique structure.

And with that, we will move on with the next bridge James visited but not before we talk about the Miller-Borcherding truss type. And for that we will move right this way…….. => 🙂

Koniska Bridge in McLeod County Coming Down

Photo courtesy of MnDOT

GLENCOE, MINNESOTA- When visiting McLeod County in 2011, rumors had it that the county had no more truss bridges. The last one had been taken down near Lester Prairie three years earlier. SInce my visit, two more truss bridge spans were discovered by local highway officials, including this one, the Koniska Bridge. The five-panel Pratt through truss bridge spans the South Branch Crow River and can be seen from the County Highway 11 bridge, a half mile away. Built in 1904 by William S. Hewett, one of the members of the Minneapolis School of Bridge Building, the bridge is 90 feet long, has A-frame portal bracings and is pin-connected. The bridge was once part of the village of Koniska, which had been abandoned before the bridge was replaced and left abandoned in the 1960s. Since then, it has sat quietly in the wilderness.

That is until now. Crews are planning to remove the bridge sometime in the fall or winter for safety reasons. The bridge’s decking is wooden but it’s rotting. The structure is rusting but there is no word on how bad. Bottom line is the avoidance of liability issues. It is unknown whether the bridge will be scrapped altogether or will be in storage for possible reuse. But as records indicate it was a Hewett truss, there is a chance to take the structure and relocate it for reuse. Furthermore, like another Hewett truss bridge in Mazeppa, it has the potential to be listed on the National Register.

If interested in the truss bridge, contact the McLeod County Highway Department in Glencoe. The contact details are here.

Mystery Bridge Nr. 140: The Slope Truss Bridge at Black Cat Road

Screenshot of the Google Street View photo of the bridge.

This next mystery bridge keeps us in Idaho but we go to Ada County and to this bridge, spanning Indian Creek at Black Cat Road. The bridge is a sloped, camelback Parker through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings, supported by heels. The truss bridge has six panels and all the beams are pin connected.

Screenshot of the portal view

Bridgehunter.com has little information on this structure except for its location and the Street View. Unfortunately no other photos or information on the bridge were found. Hence the screenshot to give the readers an idea what the truss bridge is like. This structure is unique for it is one of the last truss bridges in the US, whose upper chord is sloped all the way to the portal bracings. Dozens of these bridges were built until 1910, when standardized trusses were introduced. Which explains why this bridge, which is between 100 & 150 feet long was built between 1890 and 1910.

Screenshot view of the strut bracings

The bridge has been bypassed for a couple decades, still it has historic value which warrants its nomination to the National Register. What’s missing is the information on its history, combined with the dimensions.

This is where you step in. Got any facts about the bridge? Then post them here as well as in the bridgehunter.com website. The more facts, the more likely it will be on the NRHP. And the more likely it will be used in the future as a recreation crossing.

Good luck and happy bridgehunting. 😎

Mystery Bridge Nr. 137: The arch bridge with unique railings

This next mystery bridge takes us to Kansas and this bridge: The Gypsum Creek Arch Bridge. And if there was a true meaning of something being located out in the middle of nowhere, this is it.

The single span, closed spandrel concrete arch bridge is located at least 20 miles away from the nearby towns in each direction. The nearest town is Roxbury, which is an unincorporated community. The bridge is approximately 25-30 miles northeast of the incorporated county seat, McPherson.   It spans a branch of Gypsum Creek on an old alignment of 27th Avenue. There is almost no information about the bridge, yet a pair of photos can be found in the bridgehunter.com website, including a Google Street View shot, presented here.  Judging by the bridge’s appearance, it must’ve been built between 1900 and 1920 but was replaced by a culvert on a new alignment at least 20 years ago, by which the bridge has long since been claimed by nature. The bridge is located in the vicinity of the Maxwell Natural Preserve.

Judging by the bridge’s appearance, the structure is a real diamond in the rough for not only is the structure an arch span, but also the railings reveal a series of arches with ornamental features on the top rails- something that is rare for an arch span, pre-rehab. Most arch bridges have vase-style ballustrade railings, especially for longer spans. Yet the bridge builder who designed this structure wanted to break away from that tradition and leave a mark for himself.

Yet who was he to be this creative and when did he leave his mark? And what other bridges did he build using such a fancy design?  This is the question we are trying to find out.

If you have any information about the bridge or its builder, please feel free to leave your comments here or in the bridgehunter.com website.  If we have enough data, the next step is to nominate the bridge fort he National Register, while at the same time, work to restore the structure for future use.  Such a diamond is worth a save to get a better understanding on its history.