Additional Information: View an episode of PBS show Destination Michigan which features Historic Bridge Park
Formerly located in Ionia County, the Charlotte Highway Bridge is one of only three Whipple (double-intersection Pratt) highway bridges left in Michigan, and is a relatively large span example. It is also the only remaining bridge in Michigan built by the Buckeye Bridge and Iron Works of Cleveland Ohio. Very few bridges by this company remain nationwide. The company was later bought out by the Variety Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio. The Charlotte Highway Bridge is the fifth truss bridge to be erected in Historic Bridge Park. It forms an impressive entrance into the park as it passes over the park entry road with its complex truss configuration and bright red paint.
Source: Leading Manufacturers and Merchants of the City of Cleveland and Envrions, 1886
M. & J. Miller, Buckeye Bridge and Boiler Works, near
corner of Case Avenue and Hamilton Street. -A prominent house in Cleveland
engaged in contracting for the erection of bridges, etc, is the Buckeye Bridge
and Boiler Works, located at Case Avenue and Hamilton street, of which Messrs.
M. & J. Miller are the enterprising proprietors. This business was established
in 1872 by Messrs. Miller & Jameson, who were succeeded in 1878 by Mr. J.
Miller. Eventually in 1886 the present firm was organized, the copartners being
Messrs. M. and J. Miller, both of whom are thoroughly practical men, and possess
an intimate knowledge of all kinds of bridge construction and boiler-plate work.
The new works and office are located near the corner of Case avenue and Hamilton
street and are very extensive, having a frontage of 300 feet by a depth of 312
feet. The buildings are thoroughly equipped with the latest improved machinery
and appliances, including machines for dishing heads, plate planers,
steam-riveting machinery, etc. One hundred and twenty mechanics and operatives
are employed in the various departments of the Buckeye Bridge and Boiler Works,
while the machinery is operated by a seventy-horse power steam engine. Messrs.
M. & J. Miller manufacture to order all kinds of iron, truss, and beam bridges,
also boilers, tanks, stills, blast furnaces, and all kinds of plate work, jail
cells, and bank vaults. The various productions of this responsible house have
no superiors for quality of materials, workmanship, and general excellence. The
firm built the Willoughby bridge at Willoughby, Ohio, also bridges at Ogden and
Golden City, Utah, and numerous others in all parts of the country. Messrs. M. &
J. Miller give their close personal supervision to the operations of their
works, thus insuring only such iron work as will withstand the most critical
tests. Both partners were born in Reading, Pa., but have resided in Cleveland
for the last quarter of a century. They undertake the construction of all kinds
of iron bridges, and no more honorable, reliable, and efficient bridge builders
can be found.
During fall of 2005, I visited and found that the only activity that had gone on at the park is the creation of reproduction floor beams for the bridge. The original floor beams were apparently in too bad of a shape to be restored. The reproduction beams are true to the original, and they are riveted together the way the originals were.
A visit in February of 2006 revealed that the flooring system of the bridge was assembled. Also, the rest of the bridge pieces had been brought on site. I found this fascinating, as I always like to see what the parts look like when separate and on their own. It is often easier to visualize how everything fits together on a truss bridge when you see it in pieces like this. As a result, I have added a bunch of photos to the gallery.
An August 2006 visit revealed that the actual truss assembly is in progress, and a portion of the bridge's trusses were put together. Some of the crew was there, and I talked with them a bit and learned that they were hoping to get it put together by this winter. I have added photos to the gallery from this visit.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Bridge Inventory
The Charlotte Highway Bridge is one of only three double-intersection Pratt (Whipple) trusses extant in Michigan. The Builder, the Buckeye Bridge Works of Cleveland, Ohio, was a significant metal truss bridge builder in the midwest in the nineteenth century, and this is the only known surviving example of their work in Michigan.
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Reused
The above map shows the current location of the bridge. The bridge originally crossed the Grand River on Charlotte Highway, Ionia County, Michigan,
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