Mystery Bridge Nr. 166: A Concrete Bridge near the Native American Reservation in South Dakota

Photo taken in 1998

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One of the bridges that is in the headlines lately happens to be the one where I visited while bridgehunting in South Dakota. But that was almost a quarter century ago. The Crescent Street Bridge is located in Flandreau in Moody County, between Sioux Falls and Brookings. It spans the Big Sioux River and features a three-span concrete bridge with ornamental railings. It was built in 1935 and was part of the Works Progress Administration project that was initiated by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the goal of getting millions of Americans back into the workforce, as the USA was in the midst of a Great Depression. It was considered elgible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria C because of its association with the WPA and bridge construction during that period.

According to news stories, the bridge is scheduled to be removed during the course of 2022. The bridge has been closed for some time and since there are two other crossings in Flandreau- one of which is only a half mile to the east, chances are unlikely that this bridge will be replaced. Because the bridge is located at the entrance to the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation, work has been ongoing between local government officials, Moody County and the Reservation to determine whether a new bridge is necessary and if so, when it will be built. At the time of this post, no agreements have been made as far as the bridge’s future is concerned. Unlike the Green Bridge in Waverly, Iowa, which was removed completely last November at the dismay of many residents living in the area, this bridge project is a delicate one because it involves more than two government agencies- namely the local government and the State Historic Preservation Office, which is part of the umbrella of the state department of transportation . This one involves a Native American Reservation which is a government of its own and therefore has as much say as the state. It will be interesting to see how things develop, even after the bridge is gone.

Before it goes, we would like to know about the bridge’s history- namely who built it and what predecessor existed before 1935. Do you know about it? Then write to us using the contact information here.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 142: 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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Time Running out for Washington Bridge in Missouri

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Photo taken by James Baughn in 2008

Washington, Missouri (USA)- Replacing this unique Missouri River crossing is like the film True Crime. The almost 20-year old film featured a newspaper reporter who uses a half a day to rebuke claims that a person sentenced to death is innocent because of discreptancies. The last second evidence to avert the execution: a locket that was stolen by a killer who shoots the clerk at a convenience store and runs off, while the wrongly accused was using the restroom.

 

With the last beam of the new bridge in place, the clock is starting to tick loudly for the Washington Truss Bridge, which spans the Missouri River at Hwy. 47 in Washington. Built in 1936 by three different bridge builders located in Missouri and Kansas, the Bridge features a multiple-span cantilever through truss with X-frame portals and was built during the time of the Works Progress Administration, a program initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage people to partake in projects in response to the Great Depression. Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works in Leavenworth (Kansas) and two St. Louis Bridge builders- Stupp Brothers as well as  Sverdrup & Parcel Company were responsible for designing and constructing the 2,500-foot span, which was once one of the key landmarks of Washington.

Unfortunately for this bridge, its days appear to be coming to a close as a new span is currently being built right alongside the old span. While the length of the new structure will be about the same, the new bridge- a multiple span steel girder span- will be wider, with two 12-foot lanes, two 10-foot shoulders and one 10-foot lane for bikes and pedestrians, which will total 54 feet in width- two and a half times the width of the current bridge. After two years, the last beam was put into place on 12 June and work is now underway to pour the concrete. City officials expect the new bridge to be open by December 1, pending on weather. The truss spans will be imploded at the beginning of 2019. Talks of saving the truss bridge was getting around, however, unless a petition drive is started to save the bridge for recreational use, Franklin County will be down to four through truss bridges that carry traffic, one of which has been relocated and restored. Yet  two of them  are scheduled to come down within the next five years.

Franklin County once had a wide array of through truss bridges. In fact, during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011, there were at least a dozen bridges of its kind left in service. With the Washington Bridge coming down, we may not have any bridges left to visit and photograph, a sign of the times for many who are disinterested in the history of America and its infrastructure. It doesn’t mean that the bridge is lost yet. There is still a chance to save it. But the time is running to start the drive and convince the State that the Bridge should be saved. It’s more of the question of who is willing to be that person who pulled off a stunt similar to what Everett did in True Crime.

An ariel view of the two bridges can be seen here:

 

A summary of the history of the construction of the Washington Truss Bridge via film can be seen here. A rather interesting documentary on how the bridge was built:

 

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