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South Cass Street Bridge

American Legion Memorial Bridge

South Cass Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 12, 2009

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
South Cass Street Over Boardman River
Traverse City: Grand Traverse County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1930 By Builder/Contractor: Aldrich and Cook and Jerome Wilhelm
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
68.0 Feet (20.7 Meters)
Structure Length
68.0 Feet (20.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
40 Feet (12.19 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is noteworthy as an example of Luten bridge technology in Michigan. As such, it is locally significant. Sadly, the aesthetic qualities of this bridge were largely destroyed when the original balustrade railings were removed from the bridge. This limits the value of this bridge on a national scale. Preservation of this bridge could include removing the existing railings and placing replications of the original railings, which would bring this bridge back to glory as a noteworthy and beautiful historic bridge. A historical postcard of the bridge with original railings is shown below.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Narrative Description

S. Cass St. / Boardman River

The American Legion Memorial Bridge qualifies for the National Register as a significant memorial bridge and for its connection with Daniel Luten, a prominent bridge engineer.

In 1929, the Traverse City city commission ordered a public election to authorize the sale of bonds to build new bridges over the Boardman River at South Union Street and Cass Street. At the same time, the commission hired Daniel B. Luten, a well-known Indianapolis bridge engineer who specialized in concrete-arch design, to prepare plans for the Cass Street Bridge. Voters approved the measure in May. In the meantime, the city learned that the state would erect a bridge at South Union Street, so the city's efforts focused on Cass Street.

On 27 June 1929, the commission awarded a contract for the bridge's construction to Aldrich and Cook and Jerome Wilhelm. A few weeks later, the commission agreed to issue $50,000 worth of bonds to pay for the project. In June 1930, the commission accepted the contractors' work and authorized final payment. At the same time, the commission decided to purchase dedication plaques at the request of the American Legion for $100. There remained, however, a dispute about additional payments between the city and H.E. Williams, the Michigan agent for Luten. It is unclear how this was resolved.

While the removal of the original railings over the arch and the addition of the Jersey barricades detract from the original design, the bridge remains an important and rare example of the work of Daniel Luten in Michigan. The bridge is also locally significant as a memorial bridge commemorating the American Legion.

Cass Street crosses the Boardman River just south of downtown Traverse City. The Cass Street Bridge is situated in an attractive park. A dam is not far downstream to the west; further west is the South Union Street Bridge. The span of the Cass Street Bridge is a barrel-vaulted elliptical arch. The archivolt is highlighted by a wide, slightly projecting course. Sidewalks extend beyond the face of the arch, supported by concrete brackets. Railings on the approaches to the bridge consist of curved solid-concrete parapets and concrete balustrades with urn-shaped spindles. The original balustrade railings on the bridge itself have been replaced by two horizontal rows of timber planks. Concrete Jersey barricades separate the sidewalk from the roadway. A bridge plate on the original northeast parapet reads: "American Legion Memorial Bridge 1930." 

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Luten


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