If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you know we occasionally like to photograph bridges, for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s for their historic significance (like Caledonia and Romness Township bridges), and other times it’s because the bridge is huge and awe-inspiring, as is the case with the High Line, Karnak, and Gassman Coulee railroad trestles.
In this case, we’ve decided to photograph most of the historic automobile bridges of the Sheyenne River Valley, some abandoned but many still in use, while they still exist. Just like the structures of prairie ghost towns, these bridges are endangered by time and natural events. Floods, weather cycles, and normal wear and tear take a toll on these bridges, and without restoration, they will be gone someday. Also, it’s hard to resist the urge to go out and shoot photos when it’s sixty-some degrees in November.
Just a final note, I’ve labeled these bridges geographically, or in accordance with how I’ve seen them referenced online. If you know the official name of any of these bridges, please leave a comment.
Walcott Township Bridge
The Walcott Township bridge is in Richland County, about a mile or two south of Kindred, North Dakota, twenty miles southwest of Fargo. It is closed to all but foot traffic.
Richland County Bridge
This Richland County Bridge is along a decidedly lonely and particularly beautiful stretch of unpaved road, about two and a half miles southwest of the Walcott Township bridge shown previously, or seven and a half miles directly south of Davenport, North Dakota.
This bridge is in Richland County in the small rural community called Barrie, about eight miles southeast of Leonard, North Dakota, or twenty seven miles southwest of Fargo. Barrie Congregational Church, established in 1889, has a beautiful building just down the road from this bridge.
Shenford Township Bridge
This bridge is in Shenford Township, Ransom County, about thirteen miles northeast of Lisbon, North Dakota. As I traveled to the site, I was overcome with the ambience of the harvest as I passed farmers’ trucks lining the unpaved roads. I could see four pillars of smoke on the horizon from those who were already burning off their fields, and the smell of rich earth and smoke washed-over me.
I arrived to find a beautiful, steel bridge spanning the Sheyenne River. This bridge was built by Hewett Bridge Company sometime between 1907 and 1911. A pickup rumbled over the span while I was there and it was thunderous.
Colton’s Crossing is a 128-foot pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built by Hewett Bridge Company of Minneapolis in 1907. They were the main bridge contractor in Ransom County at the time, and they were also responsible for the other Ransom County bridges in this post. Colton’s Crossing is the oldest surviving through truss bridge in Ransom County.
Martinson Bridge is in Ransom County, about thirty miles south of Valley City, in the Sheyenne State Forest. This bridge was built in 1920 and has undergone substantial reconstruction and improvement over the years. Of all the bridges I visited on this day, this one was probably in the best condition.
Little Yellowstone Bridge
At the east end of the bridge — once a pleasant little roadside attraction, now vacant.
I wonder if Mindy and Nathan are still together.
This bridge is in Little Yellowstone Park, on the border of Ransom and Barnes Counties, just south of Kathryn, North Dakota.
In part two of this series we’ll be sharing more bridges in the region north of Interstate 94. To get notified when we post a new installment, drop your email in the form below.
Photos by Troy Larson, © 2015 Sonic Tremor Media
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy