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Hickory Island Road Bridge

Hickory Island Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 16, 2006 and October 2, 2011
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Hickory Island Road Over Rifle River
Rural: Arenac County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
128 Feet (39.01 Meters)
Structure Length
128 Feet (39.01 Meters)
Roadway Width
17.1 Feet (5.21 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This is a beautiful eight panel pin connected through truss that sits on concrete abutments. The construction date given in the inventory and on MDOT's website is 1920, which is not realistic for a pin connected through truss with an old-style Carnegie stamp on the metal and thus this date is undoubtedly incorrect. This bridge would likely date to earlier than 1900, and possibly date to the late 1880s and early 1890s. This bridge features v-lacing on the vertical members. The portal bracing is a lattice design. The lattice guardrails that remain on this bridge are rather large for a rural highway bridge, in fact they are more like railings that would have been found on cantilevered sidewalks of truss bridges located in urban settings. The railings are welded to the trusses, further indication that the railings seen today are not exactly reflective of what was originally to be found on this bridge. This is an unproven theory about the history of this bridge. Looking at the ends of the floorbeams, the edge is roughly cut as if the beams were cut to length using an oxy-acetylene cutting torch. It is possible that this bridge was not originally built at this location. Instead, the bridge may have been built in an urban location, and it may have had cantilevered sidewalks on each side. At some later date, very likely 1920 since that date is apparently what the county has listed for the construction date, the bridge would have been relocated to this location. At that time, the cantilevered sidewalks would have been removed, which would have included cutting the floorbeams to shorten them. The railings from the sidewalks may have then been reused on the inside of the truss lines as vehicular guardrails. While this story is not proven and it is not known where the bridge might have come from, this would explain every unusual feature this bridge displays. It also explains why a bridge that looks like its from the 19th century sits on concrete abutments that look more like something from 1920.

Ricky Rockwell, County Clerk of Arenac County commented he had heard that a lumber company made a cut on the Rifle River and the the bridge was floated down the river to this location. While lacking in exact details, this story seems to further support the idea that this bridge was reused and relocated from some other place.

Today, this bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic. However the county reports that it has no plans to demolish the bridge, nor any to repair it. It is to remain closed to vehicular traffic but available for public viewing and pedestrian use.

MDOT Historic Bridge Hickory Is. / Rifle RiverInformation and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Statement of Significance

The 128' length of this structure makes it one of the longest pin-connected Pratt through trusses in the MDOT inventory. The bridge retains latticework railings.


Photos and Videos: Hickory Island Road Bridge

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2011 Bridge Photo-Documentation
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A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
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2011 Bridge Photo-Documentation
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2006 Bridge Photo-Documentation
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