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Old Lake Shore Drive Bridge

Old M-26 Bridge

Old Lake Shore Drive Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 1, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Lake Shore Drive (Old M-26) Over Eagle River
Eagle River: Keweenaw County, Michigan: United States
Structure Type
Metal 6 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1915 By Builder/Contractor: Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
105.0 Feet (32 Meters)
Structure Length
139.0 Feet (42.4 Meters)
Roadway Width
17 Feet (5.18 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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Michigan has very few remaining highway deck truss bridges, and as such this bridge is a rare surviving example. The bridge is also noted for its lack of alteration. The bridge retains original lattice railings. Despite some bolted repairs to the trusses, the bridge retains its original design and appearance. The bridge crosses a small but steep gorge of Eagle River next to an attractive waterfall. The bridge has been bypassed by a modern bridge, but the historic bridge was preserved for pedestrian use. The bridge is part of a roadside park that also offers views of the adjacent waterfall. The bridge thus still serves a useful function, since the waterfall is best viewed from the historic bridge.

The bridge's original plaques remain on the bridge. The obvious ones are the fabricator plaques mounted on the lattice railings of the bridge. However, careful observers will also find the bronze Michigan State Highway Department Standard plaques which credit the substructure contractor for the bridge, located on the outward facing sides of the piers for the bridge. It is not known who decided to put those plaques there and why, but it is perhaps the dumbest place to put plaques. They are in a location that nobody can safely view them without climbing gear! One wonders why anyone would bother spending the time and money to produce the plaques if they were to be placed somewhere that nobody would see them.

The interpretive signage for this bridge states that the bridge replaced a through truss bridge. The historical photo to the right is believed to be that previous bridge.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Sites Online

Narrative Description

The Lake Shore Drive Bridge, commonly known as the M-26 Bridge, crosses the Eagle River in the heart of the town of Eagle River within the boundaries of the Eagle River National Register District. The structure is a steel-riveted Warren deck truss bridge, consisting of three spans anchored into concrete abutments. The eighteen-foot-wide bridge consists of a one hundred and five-foot-long main span and two flanking spans thirty-four feet long to the deck, creating a total length of one hundred and thirty-nine feet. The structure's guard rails are woven steel lattice.

Statement of Significance

The Lake Shore Drive Bridge was erected in 1915 by the Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company from designs furnished by the Michigan State Highway Department. The department was established in 1905 under the State Reward Law, which also provided financial aid to local government units for road construction to specific state standards. Michigan became a nationally-recognized leader in standardized bridge plans, used in the state trunk system and supplied upon request to local governments building bridges without state funds. The State Trunk Line Act of 1913 designated a road system of 3,000 miles and offered additional funding for localities. The Lake Shore Drive bridge served as a major transportation artery for the town of Eagle River until recent times. The bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic and rehabilitated for non-motorized use by the Michigan Department of Transportation. The Lake Shore Drive Bridge is an excellent example of a steel deck truss bridge, one of the three surviving historic bridges of its type defined in the Michigan Department of Transportation's "Historic Bridge Report." It is an early example of state assistance to local governments in developing and improving the state transportation network.

Marker Text

This bridge, completed in 1915, was one of two bridges erected simultaneously by the Michigan State Highway Department across the Eagle River. The second was located in nearby Phoenix. Prior to 1915 a Pratt through truss bridge crossed the fifty-three-foot gorge here. It deteriorated and was replaced with this structure. The highway department designed the bridge, which was constructed by the Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company of Milwaukee. The Smith-Byers-Sparks Company of Houghton provided the concrete abutments for this steel riveted Warren deck truss bridge, which is 139 feet long. The main span measures 105 feet long and 17 feet wide. In 1990 this bridge was converted to pedestrian use when the adjacent timber bridge opened.

In 1843 the Lake Superior Copper Company purchased several land leases for mining. Two years later the Cliff Mine, alleged to be "the first great copper mine in the Western Hemisphere," was opened by the Pittsburgh & Boston Company. The mines attracted large numbers of Germans, Cornishmen and Irishmen and gave rise to other industries. On August 29, 1846, the Lake Superior News and Miners' Journal boasted that Eagle River had "the appearance of a thriving village." In 1850, Prussian immigrant Frank Knivel opened the Knivel Brewery, and in 1862 the Eagle River Fuse Company was established southeast of here on the river. The company manufactured twenty-five thousand feet of fuse per day for use in the mines. In 1861, Keweenaw County was set off from Houghton County and Eagle River became the county seat.


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