This bridge is a small bridge and does not have much in the way of beauty, aside from some inset panels on its solid concrete railings. However, the bridge is noteworthy as the earliest known concrete slab bridge surviving in Michigan. It represents the introduction of concrete into Michigan bridge construction. The bridge is unaltered and overall appears to be in decent condition. The only issue noted is that the bridge has an only slightly noticeable sag. It is not known if this is an original issue with the bridge or something that developed later. This does not appear to pose a serious issue to the bridge's structural integrity; the bridge's superstructure was rated as Fair in the 2012 National Bridge Inventory.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory
The Chicagon Creek Bridge carries the gravel-surfaced Chicagon Mine Road over a small stream in rural Bates Township. The bridge is comprised of a single 25-foot, concrete slab span, supported by concrete abutments with angled concrete wingwalls. The structure is simply detailed, featuring plainly surfaced spandrels and exterior walls of concrete guardrails. Only the interior surfaces of the guardrails have recessed rectangular panels. "September 7, 1910" is etched in the coping of one guardrail, and "DB" is etched in the other. In good structural condition, the Chicagon Creek Bridge has retained a high degree of physical integrity.
Statement of Significance
Before the standardization of bridge design by the state highway department, county and township road commissions were individually responsible for local bridge design and construction. Most of the vehicular structures built during this period employed either steel truss or timber stringer superstructures; concrete spans, generally restricted to urban areas, were seldom built at rural crossings. The Chicagon Creek Bridge is a notable exception to this trend. Built in 1910, probably for the Iron County Road Commission, it is a simply configured example of early concrete construction. In fact, it is the earliest dateable concrete slab bridge found. As such, the Chicagon Creek Bridge is technologically and historically significant for its representation of pre-MSHD concrete slab bridge design. Although modest in its design and dimensions, it is an important early transportation-related resource.
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