Due to demolition/replacement and alteration, very few concrete arch bridges survive in Michigan and even fewer lack alteration. This bridge as such stands out for its lack of alteration, as well as for having more than one span. The bridge is abandoned, but is unaltered. Its simple solid concrete railings with rectangle outline panels are similar to ca. 1910 bridges that have been found scattered throughout Michigan, although today in very small numbers. Some of these bridges were associated with the Illinois Bridge Company which built bridges under a patent by noted bridge engineer Daniel Luten. It is not known if this bridge might have association with either Illinois Bridge Company or another bridge builder authorized to build Luten patent bridges.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Sites Online
Located about two miles south of the village of Witch Lake, this graceful concrete arch bridge spans the Michigamme River on an abandoned segment of M-95. The crossing is situated immediately west of the current alignment of the highway, immediately north of the Dickinson County line. The structure is comprised of two filled spandrel arches, with elliptically shaped, continuous arch rings. These 60-foot arches spring from massive concrete abutments and a center pier with bullnosed cutwaters on the upstream (east) side. The cambered, earthen deck is bounded on both sides by solid concrete guardrailds with incised rectangular panels. The date "1910" is inscribed on one of the guardrails. Now situated on a private road, the Michigamme River Bridge is in unaltered, though deteriorating condition.
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 superstructure; concrete spans, generally restricted to urban areas, were seldom built at rural crossings. Marquette County was notable exception to this trend. During the 1910s, at least three concrete arch bridges were built: over the Dead River in Marquette, over the Michigamme River in Republic and this span over the Michigamme. Built in 1910, probably for the Marquette County Road Commission, it is a gracefully configured example of early concrete construction. As such, the Michigamme River Bridge is technologically and historically significant for its representation of pre-MSHD concrete bridge design. Although modest in its design and dimensions, it is an important early transportation-related resource.
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This bridge is reported by MDOT to be on private property.
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