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2nd Street Bridge

South Side Bridge

2nd Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: 2006 and November 28, 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
2nd Street Over Kalamazoo River
Allegan: Allegan County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1886 By Builder/Contractor: King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
200 Feet (60.96 Meters)
Structure Length
229 Feet (69.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
16 Feet (4.88 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

This Whipple through truss was built by the King Bridge Company in 1886. Whipple through trusses are also known as double-intersection Pratt trusses. The bridge was restored in 1981 and has become the centerpiece for the city of Allegan. This is an excellent example of what any town with a historic bridge should do. Allegan and its citizens realized that a truss bridge is something a town should take pride in, rather than complain about and demolish. The use of a stoplight to control traffic flow on the one-lane bridge is an excellent solution. One-lane bridges are often cited as unsafe, but with the stoplight, this bridge is no more dangerous than the average intersection. This bridge sets an example for other historic bridges, although this implementation has unfortunately not been repeated often. More often, bridges like this have been demolished in urban areas to make way for wider bridges that offer nothing but a slab of concrete to look at.

This was one of the first truss bridges restored in Michigan. As a result, a greater amount of modern parts (like bolts) were used to repair areas of the bridge because standards and techniques such as those at Historic Bridge Park had not been employed often to serve as an example. Newer restorations, such as those at Historic Bridge Park, attempt to use period-style rivets to make repairs. Another major alteration that affected the historic integrity of the bridge was that the vertical members were completely replaced, and the original v-lacing was simply welded onto these new beams. However, despite these alterations, the 2nd Street Bridge remains as one of the most beautiful restored bridges in Michigan. Although many superstructure components are not original, the bridge retains builder plaques and decorative finials, a claim to which very few Michigan bridges are entitled. Indeed, the 2nd Street Bridge contains more builder plaques than most truss bridges anywhere. There are three distinct plaque designs present on the bridge, one on top of the portal, one inside the portal, and one on the end post. The bridge is a significant, documented example of the King Bridge Company, an important and noted bridge company. The overall appearance is still excellent, and still conveys the sense of beauty as it did prior to its restoration. The deck of the bridge is wood, with metal grating in place where the car tires to run on. Modern wooden guardrails are in place on the bridge, but original railings are still on the pedestrian sidewalk. The bridge also features extensive v-lacing and the portal bracing has an ornate portal bracing design to it. The bridge was built to a design that is the same used with the Faust Street Bridge in Texas.

Both the MDOT and the Michigan Historic Sites Online descriptions of the bridge list the structure as a "Whipple-Murphy or Pratt." This is rather misleading, so to clarify, the truss type is commonly called simply a Whipple, rather than a Whipple-Murphy. Whipple truss bridges are also known as double-intersection Pratt truss bridges, but the bridge is not a plain "Pratt" as described. Also note that the photo shown on Michigan Historic Sites Online shows the structure prior to its restoration. Lattice railings on the bridge for vehicles on the side without the sidewalk are visible in that photo. Those railings were removed in the restoration, which is unfortunate.

Historic Bridges, with their heritage, beauty, and status as unique local landmarks often can serve as focal points for events perhaps not directly related to the bridge itself. For example, this bridge will be one of several historic bridges featured on an Amateur Radio event hosted by K8CJQ. Amateur Radio operators will gather at this and other historic bridges for the "Historic Bridge Weekend", which runs from July 19 - 21, 2013.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Narrative Description

The Second Street Bridge is a Whipple-Murphy or Pratt through-truss iron and structural steel bridge. Decoration of the bridge is limited to the lattice work employed for stability in many of the bridge's structural components, iron finials on the end posts, and latticed metal handrails, one of which flanks a wood-floored pedestrian walkway.

The King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio, fabricated this single-span bridge in 1886. In 1981, the city of Allegan, by receiving federal approval and funding for its restoration, saved half the cost of replacement. They moved the bridge to dry land, where the construction firm replaced the iron vertical compression members with structural steel members and completed other needed repairs. Following the rehabilitation, which included a new paint job, the contractor returned the bridge to its abutments, and in June 1983, Allegan marked the reopening of this historic bridge with a three-day civic celebration dubbed "Bridgefest," a tradition that continues to this day.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Sites Online

Narrative Description

The Second Street Bridge is a Whipple-Murphy or Pratt through-truss iron and structural steel bridge providing a clear span of 200 feet over the Kalamazoo River with a water clearance of fifteen to twenty feet depending on the season. It is anchored to fieldstone piers or abutments on either shore. The multilayered deck is constructed from steel girders and hangers and overlaid with wood beams and planking covered in asphalt, a non-historic recent addition. Decoration of the superstructure is limited to the lattice work employed for stability in many of the bridge's structural components, iron finials on the end posts, and latticed metal handrails, one of which flanks a wood-floored pedestrian walkway.

Statement of Significance

The Second Street Bridge is one of the largest ever constructed by the King Iron Bridge Company and embodies the distinctive characteristics of one of the most popular types of bridge construction throughout the nation in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Designed by Zenas King, founder of the King Iron Bridge Company, one of the nineteenth century's most important bridge-building firms, the bridge was opened to traffic in late September 1886. The King Iron Bridge Company stood out for designs and technical contributions which helped revolutionize bridge engineering in the nation. While similar iron bridges are fast disappearing in Michigan, the Second Street Bridge is the subject of an ongoing project to protect and preserve it for the future.

Marker Text

SECOND STREET BRIDGE This simply ornamented wrought-iron bridge was built in 1866. It replaced an earlier wooden one that had begun to fall into disrepair. Designed by the King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio, the double-intersection Pratt truss bridge was completed at a cost of $7,532.25. Eighteen feet wide and spanning 225 feet of the Kalamazoo River, it is one of the largest extant bridges designed by the firm. Following a battle by city officials and local citizens to save the bridge from demolition, it was restored at a cost of $552,000 in 1983. The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.


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