The Raisin River has a couple very interesting deck trusses, this being one and the Adrian and Blissfield Railroad Bridge being the other. There are two Tecumseh Railroad Bridges, one to the north of town and the other to the south. The one to the north is a wooden structure, reportedly built around 1900. This bridge, south of town, is a beautiful truss bridge.
This rail line is owned by the Southern Michigan Railroad Society, who run historic train rides on this bridge and railway. The railway was abandoned, and concerned citizens formed the society to preserve the track and run historic trains on it. The railway itself is historically significant as the second railroad built in Michigan. The current use of the railroad line and bridge is a positive outcome. So often when a rail line is abandoned, the line is turned into a rails-to-trails path and the historic bridges on the line are henceforth altered through the addition of ugly wooden guardrails and the removal of the tracks. With the Southern Michigan Railroad Society, the bridge can continue to be enjoyed by people and be used the way it was built to be used - carrying trains. Visit their website to learn more about the rides they offer.
The bridge itself is a beautiful seven panel pin connected Pratt deck truss. It features one deck plate girder approach span to the north. To the south, it has two deck plate girder approach spans. The bridge was built by the Detroit Bridge and Iron Works in 1896. The bridge sits on beautiful, tall, stone abutments. The main deck truss span also sits on stone piers. Bents provide support for the deck plate girder approaches at the south end of the bridge. V-lacing and lattice is present on various parts of the bridge, adding to the beauty of the bridge.
Information and Findings From Michigan Historic Sites Online
Bridge No. 15 on the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad's Jackson Branch line is a four-span, metal structure that spans the River Raisin in Raisin Township just west of Raisin Center Highway and south of its intersection with Sutton Road. The 254' 10 1/2" structure carries a single track, part of the Southern Michigan Railroad Society's non-profit, all volunteer-run railroad line from Clinton to Tecumseh and Lenawee Junction. It is comprised of two deck plate girder spans, each 44' in length, at the south end; a single Pratt deck truss span 116' 10 1/2" in length, with pinned connections and inclined end posts, spanning the river; and a third deck plate girder span, 50' in length, at the north end. The structure's abutments and three piers that each support a metal bent that in turn supports the deck girders, are constructed of rock-face ashlar masonry. The bridge rises about forty feet above the river's average surface elevation. The immediate surroundings are wooded.
Statement of Significance
Built on one of Michigan's earliest railroad lines, the Palmyra and Jacksonburgh, during the years when that line was operated as the Jackson Branch of the Michigan Southern Railroad, the 1896 Bridge No. 15 with its 117-foot-long main truss is a substantial example of nineteenth-century metal railroad design in southern Michigan. Michigan's first railroad, the Erie & Kalamazoo, was chartered by the Michigan territorial government on April 22, 1833, to build and operate a line from Port Lawrence (soon to be renamed Toledo) to an undetermined point on the Kalamazoo River. The line was opened as far as Adrian on November 2, 1836. The economic downturn of the late 1830s hit soon after and the railroad was never extended past Adrian.
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