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Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery Bridge

Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: Summer 2008, May 20, 2012, and September 7, 2014

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Cemetery Drive Over Lamberton Creek
Location
Grand Rapids: Kent County, Michigan: United States
Structure Type
Metal Lattice Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Unknown
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

This bridge may be small, but it is nevertheless and unusual and noteworthy bridge. What seems to be a simple bridge is actually a unique approach to utilitarian bridge design where a bridge railing doubles as the load-bearing girders of the bridge.

Hidden away on the Grand Rapids Veterans Home campus is a bridge that was discovered by chance as it is not listed on the National Bridge Inventory. Leading to a cemetery, it appears to be a traditional, yet attractive steel stringer bridge with lattice railings, a popular design for short-span crossings in the late 19th and the early part of the 20th Century. However a closer inspection reveals that this bridge is something much more unusual, a very uncommon type of bridge. Your first clue is that the lattice railings are rather heavy duty, including the use of angles instead of bars to form the lattice. Also the railings are mounted such that they are outside the deck and extend below the deck a little. Then, when you crawl under the bridge instead of finding the usual large longitudinal metal stringers, you find smaller transverse floorbeams that are bolted into the bottom portion of the lattice railing.

Indeed, this bridge functions like a girder and floorbeam bridge... just like a through plate girder. However instead of using a built up metal plate as in a plate girder, a lighter duty lattice girder was fabricated. The design of this lattice girder is essentially the same as a lattice railing that appears on some old stringer bridges and truss bridges, except it is heavier duty. And indeed these lattice girders do double as railings for the bridge, in much the same way that the girders on a through plate girder may function as railings.

This is the only known example of a bridge of this type in Michigan. It is unknown how many might be in other states, although it is assumed this is a rare design to find today. This bridge design would likely have been marketed and would function as a light duty crossing, back even when it was built. Bridges of any type that were light duty when built back at the turn of the 20th Century were not usually strong enough to support increased loading requirements as the decades wore on, and so they were demolished and today few remain. This bridge has survived in its location all these years for several reasons. One is that it doesn't serve a through road, it serves a cemetery drive. Another is that it appears to have been taken care of, either through maintenance (the lattice appears freshly painted), or through the fact that they perhaps don't dump as much salt on this bridge in the winter as most public roads get. Another reason is that the bridge's only major alteration was that a supporting pier was added at the center of the bridge. This alteration helped the bridge support weight by turning a single-span bridge into a two-span continuous bridge.

Aside from the added pier, this bridge retains excellent historic integrity. It is a noteworthy bridge for its extremely unusual and innovative design, and should continue to be preserved. If it ever becomes  inadequate for its current location, it should be relocated for preservation elsewhere.

Be sure to view the photo gallery for this bridge, where photos and detailed descriptions are available.

There is a small park next to this bridge, and it originally had a couple tiny old concrete arch bridges, but these have since been replaced. A few photos of this park are included in the galleries for this bridge.

View Under Bridge

Above: View under the bridge showing concrete-encased metal transverse floorbeams bolted to the bottom of the lattice girder/railing.


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

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery Bridge

 

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Bridge Photo-Documentation

Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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Bridge Photo-Documentation

Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview and detail photos. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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View Photo Gallery

Additional Unorganized Photos

Original / Full Size Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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View Photo Gallery

Additional Unorganized Photos

Mobile Optimized Photos
A supplemental collection of photos that are from additional visit(s) to the bridge and have not been organized or captioned. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

Search For Additional Bridge Listings:

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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