BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 154: Tribute to James Baughn

As summer vacation is approaching, we would like to take you to a man-made lake and this unique duo crossing, located in Taney County, Missouri. The Shadow Rock Bridge spans Swan Creek at the site where US 160 once crossed near the town of Forsyth. The crossing features two different bridges, located next to each other but having different types and even heights. The lower bridge features an open-spandrel deck arch with concrete deck cantilever approach spans. That span was built in 1932 by M.E. Gillioz and replaced the first crossing, a two-span Pratt through truss bridge with A-frame portal bracings. The higher bridge succeeded the arch span 20 years later. The two-span Parker through truss bridge with riveted connections and WV portal bracings was built by Porter and DeWitt in 1952. Both bridges are still being used to this day, with the arch bridge serving as direct access to Shadow Rock Park and statue. The truss spans carries through traffic but is in need of new paint and some rehab work, though the picture taken by Mr. Baughn doesn’t show the rust but the silver coloring.

Duo bridges of this kind are rare to find these as they are either being replaced with modern structures or removed in their entirety. This was noticeable with a bridge couple in Floyd County, Iowa at Nora Springs. We had a two-span arch bridge at First Street that was built in 1916 and a taller Viaduct at Congress Street built only 300 feet away in 1955. It was a pleasant site to see them side-by-side during my visit there in 1998. Sadly both are gone now- the viaduct was replaced in 2008, the arch bridge was removed in December last year. 

But aside from the Shadow Rock Bridges where two bridges are side-by-side and at least 65 years old, which other examples do you know? Feel free to comment. Who knows, it might give bridgehunters a chance to visit them this summer, especially as we’re slowly but surely returning to normal after a year in standstill because of the Corona epidemic and chaos caused by…… You know who I’m referring to, right? 😉

Happy Bridgehunting, folks! 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 153: Tribute to James Baughn

Photo taken by James Baughn
This is our 151st Mystery Bridge as well!

This week’s Pic of the Week James Baughn series takes us to Osage City and this unusual railroad bridge. The Osage City Railroad Bridge spans the Osage River in the town of Osage City at the site where Water Street is located on the west bank. The bridge features from west to east: one pony plate girder span, one riveted Pratt through truss bridge with vertical endposts and heel portal braces, and five pony plate girders. It is unknown when the bridge was built, yet records indicate that the this span was built reusing parts from a previous bridge. There are two reasons behind it- one that is physically present and one that is theoretical. The practical point falls in line with the through truss span. Judging by the connections between the endpost and the upper chords, it appears this bridge span was imported from another bridge- a rather large one, be it a swing bridge bascule bridge, or a deck truss bridge. The reasons are that the markings indicate that a truss span was cut out of the bridge and imported to this location to serve as high-clearance span and encourage ships to pass under that span. This would have to have been done as the river bed of the Osage River was at its lowest below the water level.

The theoretical standpoint of having a patchwork bridge span may have come by the owner’s pursuit of reusing spans from another bridge in order to cut costs of building a new span. That story takes us to the Booneville Railroad Bridge, which spans the Missouri River and features a vertical lift span. That bridge used to belong to Union Pacific Railroad (UP) which had purchased the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (a.k.a. KATY Lines) in 1988 after it went out of business. Before UP’s purchase of KATY, an agreement was made with the State of Missouri a year earlier to designate the entire line into a state park trail and the Booneville Bridge was part of the incorporation plans. Unfortunately, UP wanted to demolish the vertical lift span and take the five spans to Osage City for use at the crossing. After the plan was announced in 2004, and the Department of Natural Resources ceded ownership of the bridge to UP, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued the DNR and later UP for breaching the 1987 agreement. At the same time, a preservation group was formed, and the bridge was ultimately spared demolition. UP backed off from the bridge and decided to pursue another unused bridge for reuse, hence this truss span.

It is obvious that the truss span at the Osage City crossing came from another bridge. The question is when was this patchwork bridge built? And why was it built?

The irony behind the Osage City Bridge is that UP did build a brand new bridge alongside the truss span and the line is now two-tracked, meaning this patchwork bridge now has one way traffic. This happened in 2014. As UP was working to expand its network and cutomers, the modernization and widening of the tracks were a necessity to compete with the likes of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk & Southern, Canadian Pacific and Southern Pacific, though I would give UP credit for its attempts of reusing the truss bridges for cost-cutting purposes. Not every bridge that is over a century old means it’s the end of the road and it must be demolished.  This is something that the likes of BNSF should consider, especially as they’re pursuing the demolition of a prized piece of historic artwork in Bismarck, North Dakota.

I bet Ralph Mojeski is turning over multiple times in his grave for that.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 152: Tribute to James Baughn

This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to Paoli, Indiana and this shot, taken by James Baughn. This is of the Gospel Street Truss Bridge (left) and Bowstring Arch Bridge (right), standing side-by-side. The truss span was built in 1880 by the Cleveland Bridge & Iron Company and was built using iron. The Bowstring Arch Bridge dates back to the 1930s, even though we don’t know when exactly and by whom the span was built. This pic was taken before the town of Paoli made the news on Christmas Day when a semi-truck tried to cross the span- and failed to succeed, putting the truss bridge into the waters of Lick Creek.

While the truck driver, a rather inexperienced Bible-thumper, got jail time for the incident, and the trucking firm was forced to close down, questions still linger as to how the truck driver managed to ignore the “No Trucks Allowed” sign, bigger than the Weight Limit sign! We know that the driver didn’t figure the math and that the GPS put her in the wrong location. But really: How much bigger can the sign be?

Sometimes, a sign like this one may be needed in order for drivers to pay attention:

Photo by Art Suckewer

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The bright side to this bridge disaster is that it made for an example of how the police should handle situations like this in the classroom, for regardless of country, the police officer has to know how to handle such a situation in his/her own language, let alone the fines for disobeying the traffic signs and other restructions. In my classroom in the German state of Saxony, it has been a hit for discussion both in English as well as in German, especially as the state has a few metal and wooden truss bridges left including five covered bridges.

The bridge has been restored to its former glory, with the trucking company having paid for the whole project. You can see it in the video below:

And even with the headache bars and other restrictions, there’s still work to be done to ensure that truckers must obey the traffic laws, even if it means having to redo some of the features in the GPS system to ensure that they stay off the roads where light-weight, small but historic bridges are located. But at the same time, tougher measures will still be needed to hold the truck driver and the company responsible. Jail time, fines and other sanctions are one thing, but education in trucking and law enforcement are just as important. After all, even if we live in a democracy, we have laws and laws are there to save lives and protect persons and property.

And that tops all the money being spent on more modern but bland concrete slabs whose value will never top a structure like the Gospel Twins of Paoli. 🙂 ❤

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 151: Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Week paying tribute to James Baughn also pays tribute to Earth Day. This year’s Earth Day took place on April 22nd and this year’s event is symbolic, for the United States under President Joe Biden has returned to the Paris Summit and to the table with two goals in mind:

  1. To fix the alliances with other countries, which were beset with hostility, ridicule and ignorance from the previous Presidency whose main slogan was „American First!“
  2. To challenge the countries to do more by setting their own ambitious goals of reducing Carbon Dioxide levels, reducing global warming and restoring the environment wherever is possible.

The Biden effect has played out in other countries, where the green movement in politics, policies and even personal preferences is in full swing. In Germany alone, the Greens party not only has a successor candidate for Chancellor in Germany in Annalena Baerbock, they also has one who is ambitious and has a plan to make Germany greener. At the time of this post, the Greens are leading the CDU party under the helm of current Chancellor Angela Merkel in the race, even though the German elections are five months away.

But putting aside the Green movement in politics, the Biden effect has had a pivotal effect for it shows that if you are a leader and set the benchmarks, the other countries will follow suit and not only reach (or even surpass) the benchmark, but also challenge others with their own goals. With China, Russia, the EU, India, Brazil and Japan as key players, this race to stop the rise in global temperatures and the subsequent climatic effects will eventually become the race to see who is the greenest and the biggets icon.

But how important is Earth Day?

Have a look at the photo taken by Mr. Baughn in 2015. It’s of the Herculaneum Bridge, spanning Joachim Creek on Highways 61 and 67 in Herculaneum in Jefferson County. The bridge was built in 1934 by M. E. Gillioz in Monett, Missouri. The bridge builder was responsible for dozens of bridge built in the 1930s, some of which are still in service today.

With the increase in the numbers and intensity of droughts and flooding, as well as extreme temperatures, this photo serves as a reminder of how dire the situation is. With flood water levels falling four feet shy of the bridge’s portal bracings, this photo shows the 15 foot tall Camelback through truss bridge almost completely covered in water. Normally you see bridges inundated when dams are built. But not like this.

This bridge was lucky because of its design and riveted connections. It had been rehabilitated prior to the flood. And at present, after emergancy inspections and repairs , this bridge is still in use.  Yet flooding has destroyed dozens of bridges globally, annually. Not just trusses, arches and trestles, but also modern bridges built only 20 years ago! There are enough examples to go around.

If this example is not convincing enough, ask yourself this question: How has your region changed over the past 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? Compare this with the weather patterns your parents and grandparents have experienced and when finished, ask yourself this question:

Is this what we want? For our kids and grandkids?

When looking at our potential fourth year of drought coming our way in Germany and parts of Europe, combined with the death of forests in many areas in Saxony and Thuringia, and fewer amounts of snow in the winter, I can tell you my answer: No, this is not our planet. 😦

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 150: Tribute to James Baughn

The 150th Pic of the Week takes us to Burlington, Iowa, and to this bridge, the Cascade. If there is one bridge a person should see in order to appreciate its structural beauty, fitting in a natural setting, it’s this structure. The bridge features a Baltimore deck truss and two Pratt deck trusses, all of the connections are pinned. The Baltimore span is the only known truss of its kind in Iowa, yet its construction and uniqueness has earned it national recognition in the form of the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built in 1896 by the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works Company, using Carnegie Steel as its provider for steel bridge parts. The design cam efrom the engineering office of Boynton & Warriner in Cedar Rapids. The bridge is suspended more than 60 feet from the ground, with supports from both sides of the gulch which the structure spans. A rather unique piece of artwork for a bridge lover and historian.

The bridge was one of the stops we made during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2013 and this pic came from James’ bridge library. Yet its days may be numbered for the structure has been closed since 2008, to pedestrians since 2019. Residents living on the south side of the city have been battling to at least reopen the bridge for bikes and pedestrians, even if it means making the necessary repairs to do that. Yet the Burlington City Council has been unwilling to make even the modest repairs because of the lack of funding. Its cash-strapped mentality has resulted in much of its historic architecture either disappearing with the wrecking ball or simply sitting there until one incident that brings up the liability issue comes about and it eventually becomes a pile brick and steel. Its abandoned houses and buildings are matched with those in Glauchau, where BHC is headquartered, except Glauchau’s issue are owners buying historic buildings and simply leaving them sit without doing anything with them.

The winds of change are coming to Burlington, though. Already plans to replace the Cascade Bridge is going into motion, though when this will happen remains unclear, due to the question of funding, combined with the bridge’s status and the opposition to demolishing the rare structure to begin with. I’ve been doing some research and interviewing some people involved with the project and an Endangered TRUSS article is in the making.

Stay tuned for more details…..

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 149: Tribute to James Baughn

Shortly after taking office in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went to work to provide help to over a third of the population in the USA who were beset by unemployment caused by the Great Crash on October 29, 1929 which later ushered in the Great Depression. Two of the programs that were introduced were the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which started on March 21, 1933, and the Works Progress Administration, which was founded on May 6, 1935. Both organizations had a general purpose: to provide employment to people who needed, whereas the CCC was mainly for those between the ages of 18 and 25. Much of the projects that were undertaken during the time of the two programs were outdoors, which included erosion control, planting trees, renaturalizing areas near bodies of water and building infrastructure to accomodate waterways and vehicular traffic, including dams and bridges.

And this is where this Pic of the Week, which is also our 145th Mystery Bridge comes into being. James Baughn photographed this unique bridge, which goes by the local name, Geode Bridge. The structure spans Saunder’s Creek at the park which also bears the stream’s name in Mount Pleasant, located in Henry County in southeastern Iowa.  The build date of this very unique stone bridge goes back to 1933, which would mean that the CCC would have constructed the bridge. The bridge is no more than 40 feet long and is relativey short- between 10 and 15 feet. The bridge design is a pony girder with triangular pointed vertical posts at the end, resembling high heels. The railings are art deco.

There are some questions that surround this story about the bridge. The first one is who was behind the design of the bridge, for it is one of the most unique bridges- a rare structure that is one of a kind in Iowa.  The second question is where the stones used were quarried and hauled to the site while the last one is the most important: How was it built and how long did it take to build it?  For the third question, it is important to note that modern techniques in today’s standards would have this bridge completed between 3-6 months. But if we go back tot he Depression Era, where vehicles are smaller and slower, the building techniques are more hands-on, the machinery was sometimes old and outdated and the fuel needed was rationed due tot he lack of supply, the time to build a structure like the Geode Bridge was probably much longer than six months; presumably it was in the range of 12 months.  More research into the bridge’s history, including interviews and like, would be needed to answer the aforementioned questions.

Saunders Park features this bridge as one of its masterpieces, together with a historic log house and a pair of gazeebos along with some shelter houses, playground and some forest, thus making it one of the most attractive places in the city. It showcases some natural scenery to those working or being treated for injuries/ illnesses at the nearby hospital as well as school children, who attend Manning School only a couple blocks away. It’s a stop that is worth a couple hours, especially if you travel long distances or are visiting friends and relatives in Mt. Pleasant.

James photographed this unique structure in 2013 during the Historic Bridge Weekend, tying it in with the visit to the Oakland Mills Bridge. While the bridge may be small, it’s worth a photo session, regardless of how it is done- wedding, graduation or for a simple calendar. While there has never been a calendar on Iowa’s historic bridges, should there be one, this bridge should be one of them that should be added, regardless of who took the shot.

Author’s Note: If you have any information about the bridge’s history, feel free to add this in the Comment section below. You can also include the info in the BHC’s facebook pages or that of Historic Bridges of Iowa as well as Iowa Bridges Past and Today.

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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

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 147: Tribute to James Baughn-Easter Edition Part 1

This week’s Pic of the Week features a two-pic special in observance of the Easter holiday weekend. The first part will be showcased today on Easter Saturday, the second part on Easter Sunday- all in honor of the bridgehunter webmaster himself, James Baughn.

Today’s Pic takes us to Chester, Illinois and this bridge, the Gage Junction Bridge. This pic was taken by Mr. Baughn in 2013 at the time where Spring is beginning to take its course with the blossoming of trees and the melting of the snow. When this pic was taken, the river levels were higher because of the run-off caused by the melting snow. Nevertheless, this shot deserves recognition for its beauty as the greening process takes its course.

The Gage Junction Bridge is one of the newer versions of the truss bridge. The bridge features a polygonal Warren through truss span supported by multiple plate girder spans. The portals are Washington-style (WA) and the connections are riveted. The total length is 1380 feet; the truss span is 240 feet. The bridge is located over the Kaskaskia River just above the Lock and Dam northwest of Chester, in Randolph County, Illinois. It was built in 1976 replacing a swing bridge that had been built in 1903 but was destroyed in a train wreck in 1975. Union Pacific continues to operate the line and this bridge to this day.

The Gage Junction Bridge represents an example of truss bridges that were still being used during the 1970s. Even though truss bridges became rare to build because of other bridge designs that were more commonly used, such as beams and girders. However, in the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of truss bridges being built. Even though nine out of ten newer truss bridges have been built for railway traffic, we have seen new truss bridges that have been built either for pedestrian use, like the Sutliff Bridge in Johnson County, or for roadway use, like the Motor Mill Bridge in Clayton County– both located in Iowa. We’re not talking about the mail-order-truss structures that are welded together at a manufcaturing company and installed on the spot. We’re talking about truss bridges that are put together and supported by riveted connections and feature genuine portal and strut bracings, V-laced vertical beams and upper and lower chords. And they are built together onsite and over the river. 🙂

This leads me to some questions for you to ponder:

  1. How historically valuable are these modern truss bridges compared to the ones built between 1870 and 1940, including those made of iron and also those with special (ornamental) features?
  2. Will truss bridges make a comeback and become another option for bridge building? We’re seeing many examples of such bridges dating back to the 1980s and later in places like Indiana and Ohio. But what about the other states?
  3. What truss designs are used to construct modern truss bridges and which ones would you like to see built?
  4. And lastly, what’s a typical truss bridge to you and in your opinion, will these modern truss bridges meet your own expectations?

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Feel free to comment here or in the Chronicles’ facebook pages. We love to hear from you. 🙂

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 146: Tribute to James Baughn

Our next Pic of the Week takes us to Booneville, Missouri. The city is located on the Missouri River in Cooper County, yet the city was famous for saving this prized railroad bridge. The Booneville Bridge is a multiple-span through truss bridge with a vertical lift span, all of the spans are polygonal Warren with A-frame portal bracings. This bridge is the third crossing over the Missouri, having been built in 1932 replacing another multiple-span truss bridge with a swing span that was built in 1896 by the American Bridge Company of New York. The first crossing had been built in 1874 by another American Bridge Company, but one in Chicago.

Union Pacific Railroad (UP) used to operate the structure until the bridge and the line were abandoned in 1992. That is where the problems started. The railroad company wanted to remove the tracks and subsequentially the bridge. The community of Booneville, plus bike organizations and preservationists wanted to save the bridge and incorporate it into the KATY Trail. There were petitions, phone calls and the like, but UP ignored every plea and started arrangements to demolish the bridge, with the backing of the US Coast Guard and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which saw the bridge as a hindrance towards navigation. This was where one person stepped in and halted the plan: Jay Nixon.  As Attorney General, he took on the DNR over the bridge before extending the lawsuit to UP in 2005-06. Yet his ascension to governor of Missouri in 2009 sealed the deal and with that, the defendants stepped down and UP handed over ownership to the City of Booneville.  Rehabilitation followed and the bridge reopened in 2016.

Fast forward to 2021 and we see the bridge open to the public. It’s still not part of the KATY Bike Trail as of yet because of technical issues involving the lift span and the expenses involved to repair and renew them. But that’s no stranger as this was seen with the rehabilitation of the Stillwater Lift Bridge in Minnesota, which has been open to traffic since May 2020. But it is hoped that the problem will be fixed and there is a chance that the trail is relocated to the historic bridge from the highway bridge, to reduce the risks of accidents and personal injury. Nevertheless, the bridge is still a monument that can be accessed with a newly constructed bridge deck and has a great observation deck viewing the Missouri River and the city’s skyline.

James Baughn, who photographed this bridge in 2005, documented the bridge story quite well in his bridge profile, one that is ripe enough for a book on the trials and successes in saving and restoring the Booneville Railroad Bridge. It is hoped that when the bridge is finally in use as a bike trail crossing that the story is updated and someone, like Jay Nixon, whose state park is named after him, will write about it, let alone tell us about how he saved the bridge.

BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 138: Tribute to James Baughn

The next Pic of the Week series dedicated to James Baughn takes us to Jefferson City, the state capital of Missouri. With a population of 42,700 inhabitants, Jeff City (which is the nickname of the city) represents one of only nine capital cities that have a population of less than 50,000 inhabitants. It is also the city with its lone crossing over the Missouri River and is one where the nearest crossing over the second longest river in the States is over 75 miles- in each direction!

In either case, our profile this week is the Jeff City Twin Bridges. The bridges feature two, identical steel through arch bridges that carry US Highways 54 and 63. Its history is similar to the twin suspension bridges out east, the Delaware Memorial Bridges. The first bridge was designed by Sverdrup and Parcel of St. Louis Missouri and fabricated by Stupp Brothers Bridge & Iron Company, completing the now southbound bridge in 1953. A video showing the construction of the bridge can be seen below:

Originally it was built to replace a combination truss and swing bridge built in 1896. An identical span was built in 1991 to accommodate northbound traffic. As of present, the twin bridges are still serving traffic in and out of Jeff City. You can view the video of crossing the Jeff City Bridges here:

The pic at the beginning of this article was taken by James Baughn at sundown, showing the two spans in its original glory, standing side-by-side. 🙂

Stupp Brothers was one of a handful of bridge builders in Missouri that played a key role in the construction of bridges in the state for well over a century and a half. Many structures built by Stupp still exist in the state, even though records indicate that the company had built bridges in neighboring Illinois, Iowa and Kansas and there was even one constructed in Mississippi. I had a chance to interview one of the family members who is still associated with the company in 2017, in connection with one of the bridges that spanned the Merrimack River carrying the former Route 66. How the company came into being and is still running strong, you will find in the interview in the next article.

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