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Bauer Road Bridge

Bauer Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 20, 2005 - April 16, 2014

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Bridge Park Trail Over Dickinson Creek
Rural: Calhoun County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1880 By Builder/Contractor: Penn Bridge Company of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
89 Feet (27.1 Meters)
Structure Length
89 Feet (27.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
16 Feet (4.88 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 has been moved and restored, and now resides in Historic Bridge Park.

This bridge has not been painted because it is wrought iron. Wrought iron does not rust like steel does, and thus painting the bridge was not going to offer any noticeable benefit. This bridge is one of the oldest truss bridges in Michigan, with its 1880 construction date. It was built by a significant company, the Penn Bridge Works of Beaver, Pennsylvania. The railing on the bridge is a larger lattice than on the other bridges because of some issues that developed with safety. As an old truss bridge, the bridge is overall a light duty bridge. All members and chords are smaller than what the average pin-connected Pratt through truss from later years consisted of. The height of the truss is quite short also, although the deck width is average, which results in this bridge having a false wide feeling to it. Compare this to the Gale Road Bridge which has the same approximate width but is taller. The bottom chord is highly unusual on this bridge. The eye-bars that form the bottom chord in the middle four panels on the bridge have eye-bars with three eyes. In other words, that one eye-bar spans two panels. Another unusual feature is the end-post/top chord connection (the hip joint) which actually has two pins, one for the vertical and one for the diagonal. This is a design characteristic that appears on most older truss bridges built by the Penn Bridge Company. The way the top chord terminates at the end post is less commonly seen also. In the case of this bridge, there would have been a plaque mounted on the end of the top chord to hide the "guts" of the top chord. This design technique shows up again on older Penn Bridge Company structures, but the Wrought iron Bridge Company was also noted for doing this as well. The Portal bracing is ornate, and in addition to the lattice also features a decorative flower-shaped punch-out on the corners. If you look closely, you can see the serrated edge on this design which shows that the design was punched out of the metal. Another detail to note when you examine the portal up close is that there are little buttons on the middle of the lattice portion of the portal bracing. Sadly, all but a couple are left today. If you look very close, you can make out "PENN" written on them. Again, this was an interesting thing that shows up on older Penn Bridge Company bridges.

During the restoration of this bridge, crews utilized some parts from a Tallman Road Bridge, which was located near to the Bauer Road Bridge in Clinton County. The HAER documentation links above offer details and a photo-documentation of that bridge.

Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory

Narrative Description

MDOT Historic Bridge Calhoun County Bauer Rd. / Looking Glass River

The Bauer Road Bridge is one of only two known surviving examples of through truss spans built in Michigan by the Penn Bridge Works of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, an important eastern bridge company in the nineteenth century.

This bridge will soon reside at the Historic Bridge Park of Calhoun County Community Development. Many historic bridges, throughout Michigan, are being closed due to lack of structural integrity. The MDOT Critical Bridge Program funds the replacement of these bridges, but the question of what to do with the historic bridge still remains. The Historic Bridge Park allows the history and the technology and skill involved in designing and constructing these bridges to be preserved at a site accessible to the public.

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


Photo Galleries and Videos: Bauer Road Bridge

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2005 Bridge Photo-Documentation
A collection of overview and detail photos. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original Size photos and Mobile Optimized photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
2014 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
View Photo Gallery
2014 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


Maps and Links: Bauer Road Bridge

The above map shows the current location of the bridge. The bridge originally crossed the Looking Glass River on Bauer Road, Clinton County, Michigan.

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