Fairview Lift Bridge is a place we’ve visited before, but the last time we were there, the sky was full of smoke from wildfires, so we promised ourselves we would go back again when we got another chance, and that chance came in July, 2017. We had just learned that the adjoining Cartwright Tunnel, the only railroad tunnel in the state of North Dakota, was in danger of implosion if funding couldn’t be raised for a restoration, so that became another excuse to visit this rusty beauty spanning the Yellowstone River.
Fairview Lift Bridge was built in 1912 and 1913. You can read more about it here. There is a twin bridge which spans the Missouri River, 9 miles away, near Snowden, Montana. We visited that one, too, but there is no access to the railbed at Snowden. Fairview has been turned into a footbridge, and the access to beautiful North Dakota vistas from the bridge is excellent.
It’s not uncommon to see sport boats, personal watercraft, and water skiers on the Yellowstone at Fairview Bridge, but it was just one happy fisherman on the day we visited in 2017.
Above: Looking down on an island in the Yellowstone River from the Fairview Lift Bridge.
Our first look at Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel came from R. David Adams, who contributed this album of photos in 2011.
According to this blog, the Cartwright Tunnel was endangered as of summer, 2017. (There is a Friends of the Fairview Bridge page here.) In short, the tunnel is starting to crumble after a century, and it needs to be repaired to the tune of $2-plus-million. If the funds can’t be raised, it will likely be imploded.
Someone proposed: Get a hundred people to walk through the tunnel and across the bridge, at night, holding smartphones, flashlights, and lanterns. Film it with a professional video crew, and make it viral famous to raise awareness about the need for funds to maintain the bridge and restore the tunnel. A hundred little lights stretching across the bridge at night…
There is a video from our last visit to the area which includes our walk through the tunnel.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2017 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