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Fountain Island Bridge

Lakeside Park Bridge

Fountain Island Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 18, 2021

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Pedestrian Walkway Over Exhibit
Fond du Lac: Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1870 By Builder/Contractor: Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
67 Feet (20.5 Meters)
Structure Length
67 Feet (20.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
10.9 Feet (3.32 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

The trusses of the only known Milwaukee Bridge and Iron bowstring were placed on display after the bridge was for unclear reasons replaced with a new pedestrian bridge. The bridge has a long history. It was built in an unknown location in ca. 1870. In 1926 it was moved to Lakeside Park to provide pedestrian access to Fountain Island. The bridge at some point had a concrete deck added that encased the lower portion of the truss members. In 2017, after some fuss over the future of the bridge (the city refused to preserve the bridge for pedestrian use in its Fountain Island location), a compromise was reached and the bowstring was replaced with a mundane modern prefab pedestrian truss and the historic bowstring bridge's truss lines were removed and placed at the eastern edge of the park alongside a walkway as a static exhibit. After the concrete was removed from the trusses and the truss lines were repainted it is remarkable how good the condition of the bowstring trusses are, a testiment to the durability of wrought iron. What is a mystery is why the city wouldn't just preserve the bridge in place at Fountain Island. The truss lines that were moved to the exhibit location could simply have been returned to Fountain Island. New floorbeams could have been added to the bridge and a new deck and railing installed. The only good news is the opportunity to find a functional use for the bowstrings remains given that the trusses in exhibit form were not altered from their original design. The floorbeams are missing, but it is questionable that the original floorbeams were even in existence when the 2017 project took place. The trusses could be again moved and reused as a bridge in the future.

Bowstring bridges like this were built in a time when builders were experimenting with metal in bridge design. Each company had its own unique (often patented) design. As such, this bridge being the last surviving example of a bowstring by Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works, is of high significance as it is the last surviving example of what Milwaukee Bridge's bowstrings looked like.

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

HAER Data Pages, PDF

Above: Photo from city showing bridge before removal.

Above: Photo of the replacement prefab bridge.



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