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Dodd Ford Bridge

Dodd Ford Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 2, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
CR-147 (521st Avenue) Over Blue Earth River
Rural (Near Amboy): Blue Earth County, Minnesota: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1901 By Builder/Contractor: L. H. Johnson of Minneapolis, Minnesota

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
143 Feet (43.7 Meters)
Structure Length
148 Feet (45.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
View Information About HSR Ratings

Bridge Documentation

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

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

This bridge is a rare example of a pin-connected Camelback truss. The truss is shaped in such as way that it strongly has a "Camelback" shape to it, since five panels of the bridge are devoted to a horizontal top chord, giving it a somewhat unusual appearance. Also unusual is that the depth of the portal bracing is less than the depth of the sway bracing. Aside from repairs to a vertical member and an end post, the bridge trusses have excellent historic integrity with no noteworthy alterations.

This bridge has repeatedly been threatened with demolition. The first time was when the HAER documentation was completed in 1993 following flood damage to the abutments. The HAER documentation states that the bridge was slated for demolition. This obviously never happened, since the bridge remains standing today. More recently, the bridge was closed to traffic and again threatened with demolition. The Dodd Ford Bridge Preservation Society was formed to advocate for the preservation of the bridge. They produced a YouTube videos, featuring an "Our Story" production about the bridge. The fight to save this bridge from demolition is ongoing. The story of the bridge's most recent fight for continued existence can be traced back to ca. 2007/2008 when a Section 106 Review was conducted in response to a federal grant that the county was seeking to replace the bridge. Section 106 requires consideration of feasible and prudent alternatives to demolition. The outcome of Section 106 was that in fact that replacement was avoidable and that rehabilitation was both feasible and prudent. The bridge was described as an excellent candidate for rehabilitation. This meant that if the county wanted federal help for this bridge, the county would have to agree to rehabilitate the bridge. The federal funds could not be used to replace the bridge. The county, for whatever reason, really didn't like that idea. So great was the county's dislike that the county did something that is almost unheard of: they turned down the federal money by withdrawing its application for funding. Following this somewhat unusual action by the county, the Amboy community sought other means of preservation, and applied for Minnesota Legacy Funds to supplement costs for rehabilitating the bridge for use as part of a recreational trail. They were given $100,000 to conduct an engineering assessment for that purpose. The county has now proposed the possibility of rehabilitating the bridge for low volume traffic by adding steel stringers underneath the bridge to carry the load of traffic. The county has proposed to do this using state funds and new funding from the Minnesota Legacy funds.

HistoricBridges.org's field visit revealed that despite a lack of paint, the bridge trusses are overall in outstanding condition. Even the bottom chord connections, which often are areas with substantial section loss and/or pack rust, have nearly no section loss at all. It is not clear why the bridge was even closed to traffic. If there is a severe problem with the truss, it is likely isolated in nature and easy to correct. The only thing questionable is some unusual repairs made in 1984 when metal cases were built around a damaged end post and vertical member. This repair differs from other more common repair methods, such as splicing a new member section in place, or welding plate to damaged members. These cases look like they might not provide substantial strengthening and may trap moisture and lead to deterioration.

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Trusses Converted To Decorative


Photo Galleries and Videos: Dodd Ford 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. Alternatively, Browse Without Using 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. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
Jumping On The Bridge
Full Motion Video
This video with audio shows the effects of jumping on the bridge which causes members to move and rattle. This is actually a good sign, indicating loads are transfering through the various truss members. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.


Maps and Links: Dodd Ford Bridge

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