At first glance, this bridge looks like a typical scenario: it looks like a former railroad line and its plate girder bridge have been converted to a trail available for ORVs, snowmobiles, and non-motorized traffic. However a closer inspection seems to suggest that this is actually a former highway bridge, rather than a railroad bridge. The bridge has a fairly wide deck width (compared to a single track railroad bridge). Yet despite its width, the girders are more lightweight than many narrow, single track railroad plate girders. Double-track railroad bridges would have even more massive girders. The bridge sits on riveted steel caissons. This type of substructure is rare in railroad bridges, and in the few cases where it does occur like with the Sturgeon River Bridge, the caissons are more massive. The reality is that this bridge is more like a highway plate girder like the Woodland Road Bridge. Furthermore, north of the bridge, Lake Street lines up perfectly with this bridge, except that today, the road makes a 90 degree turn to end at US-41 just before the bridge. It stands to reason that before this current alignment of US-41, Lake Street likely continued south over this bridge. If the above assumptions are correct, than this bridge is a rare example of a highway plate girder in Michigan. Unlike some states, Michigan built very few highway plate girders. As such, surviving examples in Michigan are far more historically significant and rare on a statewide basis than this bridge type might be in another state like Pennsylvania which has more examples.
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