Conveniences Sorely Needed: Montana's Historic Highway Bridges, 1860-1956

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Montana Historical Society, 2005 - History - 173 pages
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Old bridges do more than just span rivers. They provide an important historical connection between the hopes and dreams of the people who built them and those who continue to benefit from their use today. Many of Montana''s historic highway bridges are symbols of the cooperative spirit that led to economic and social stability throughout the Big Sky Country for over a century. Other bridges, such as those built during the Great Depression, are physical reminders of significant periods in American history and tell stories about the breadth of Montana''s transportation past. In addition, these bridges reflect both the best and worst in engineering techniques and serve as testaments to the science of practical bridge design, ranging from the aesthetically delightful Fort Benton Bridge to the more mundane Fred Robinson Bridge in the Missouri Breaks country.

In the modern era, where many people seem to be in a hurry to get where they''re going as fast as possible, old bridges can be obsolete nuisances that need to make way for modern conveyances. There is, however, a growing group of preservationists who see them as symbols of an earlier time that are worthy of saving. Today, Montana''s historic bridges are a visible, rarely appreciated, and fast disappearing part of the state''s historic landscape. Yet the stories they tell about Montana''s complicated social history are important to understanding the dynamics of Montana''s development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and reflect the optimism many people had, and have, for the state''s future.
 

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Contents

Wolf Point Bridge across the Missouri River
4
CHAPTER
12
Parsons Bridge on the Jefferson River
18
Fort Benton Bridge span opened to permit passage
24
The Golden Age of Bridge Building in Montana
29
CHAPTER 2
30
Pratt through truss and pin connection diagrams
36
East Bridge in Billings with a destroyed span 4 1
42
Bad Route Creek Bridge near Fallen
75
Milk River Bridge on U S Highway 2
81
Steel stringer overpass at Garrison
87
Sidney Bridge across the Yellowstone River
93
Culbertson Bridge over the Missouri River
100
Mossmain Overpass at a railroad junction near Laurel
106
Fallon Bridge across the Yellowstone River
114
Fred Robinson
120

Dearborn River High Bridge near Augusta 4 7
48
Conley Street Bridge at Deer Lodge
54
Yellowstone River or Voges Bridge west of Big Timber
62
Bonner Bridge in Missoula County under construction
68
Toston Bridge across the Missouri River
125
Saving Montanas Historic Bridges
133
Glossary
153
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Bridges could either unite a community or divide it, as in the case of the original Flathead River bridge at Polson. Few disputed the need for a bridge to provide a direct connection from the town to the ranch and farmland on the west side of the river. The problem was deciding which Polson street would have direct access to the bridge. Although the city commission supported an approach through Riverside Park at C Street, businessmen on B Street wanted the approach off their street. Meanwhile, as debate intensified, ranchers on the river's west side were busy building their approach even as the contractor was finishing construction of the 1,842-foot bridge in August 1910.A week after a raucous city council meeting, the B Street supporters filed an injunction to stop C street construction. Although the injunction claimed that approach would "deprive the plaintiff of the use and enjoyment of the reserve," it was intended to give B Streeters time to develop their own plans. The next day, two men employed by B Street businessmen began to grade an approach through the park. When the men ignored an order from the mayor to stop, he arrested them. After four more arrests, the mayor officially closed B Street and the contractor barricaded the bridge, which aroused the ire of the ranchers who ignored the barricade and began using the bridge anyway.Finally, on August 17, the various parties compromised on a solution--there would be approaches from each street. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, the newspaper reported that things were settling down, "the arrested men turned loose, the lawyers have gone fishing, the Mayor is rusticating in the hills, the Sheriff and Commissioners have come and gone, the bridge is completed and will soon have two approaches, and everybody loves his neighbor no matter which street he lives.

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