HistoricBridges.org offers professional detail-oriented photo-documentation, information, and preservation advocacy for all types of historic bridges except covered bridges. HistoricBridges.org is authored by Nathan Holth. Click Here For The Latest Website Update (11-29-23). Follow our Facebook Page to get notified of website updates.
Featuring photo-documentation and narratives, the Bridge Browser offers photo-documentation and narrative discussion for thousands of selected historic bridges. Although selected bridges from around the world are listed, the Bridge Browser focuses on North America. Places listed in blue on the interactive map below have bridges available. The BridgeSeek custom search tool is also available, or use the Bridge Locator app to find bridges near you. View newly added bridge pages. There are currently 7683 bridges available in the Bridge Browser.
Random Bridge (Tap To Load Another)
39th Street Bridge: Indianapolis: Marion County, Indiana: Already a rare bridge type, demolition elsewhere in the city has made this one of the last surviving Melan arch bridges in Indiana.
Alabama Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin
Alberta British Columbia Ontario Québec Saskatchewan
Worldwide Countries and Regions
Brazil (Brasil) China (中国) Europe and the United Kingdom Japan (日本) Pakistan (پاکِستان) Southeast Asia
Additional Website Features
Informative presentations designed to introduce viewers to the world of historic bridges. Utilizing photos and diagrams, the various terminology, construction, and configuration of historic bridges is discussed. A presentation on inspecting historic bridges is also available. This page also features some formal, yet easy-to-read, essays that further explore the historic bridge world.
An archive of presentations given by
HistoricBridges.org, plus numerous articles relating to historic bridges. This section also includes some non-bridge related photos. Some of the
major features include:
- Downloadable presentations previously given by HistoricBridges.org.
- A discussion of Michigan's ornamental "Type R4" bridge railing.
- An in-depth look at curved chord through girder bridges.
A comprehensive visitor's guide to this unique park located in Calhoun County, Michigan whose focus is the restored metal truss bridges within the park. Contains maps, photos, and links to bridge browser pages for the historic bridges within the park.
This is a one-stop photographic catalog of the names of steel mills found on bridges in the United States and around the world. The wording and design of these mill marks/brands changed over the years and in some cases can assist in dating the iron/steel materials on a bridge.
The Prints Store is where you can purchase quality prints of selected photos from HistoricBridges.org taken by Nathan Holth. Photos are organized into folders by state/province. Don't see the bridge and/or photo you would like a print of? Contact us and let us know what photo you would like and we will upload it to the store so you can purchase your prints.
HistoricBridges.org maintains a Facebook page. The Facebook page is a convenient way to be notified of major updates to the website and other important news relating to the website and historic bridges.
Features a collection of external links to other bridge websites on the Internet. Many other bridge enthusiast websites feature bridges from areas not covered by this website, and links to those websites can be found here.
The Historic Bridge Locator App, newly launched in 2022, is an app that will instantly locate all bridges on the HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser, that are (or were) near your current location. As a web-based app it does require a working Internet connection, however the web-based design means it should be compatible with almost any smartphone. A new feature, the app currently only displays ALL bridges (both extant and demolished) within 2, 20, or 50 kilometers of your location depending on your selection. An experimental test feature is also being built to search all bridges listed on the BridgeHunter.com website less than 10 kilometers away. When viewing results for HistoricBridges.org, you may also map the results to Google Maps and OpenStreets. For the BridgeHunter results, an OpenStreets map is available (Google is not included on the BridgeHunter results, to conserve bandwidth, as Google is a paid service after a certain level of traffic). In the future, options to toggle demolished bridges may be implemented. Note: If you are on Android using Chrome, you can open the app and use the Chrome menu item "Add to Home screen" to create a shortcut on your phone just like a full App Store app.
November 29, 2023: BridgeHunter Portion of Bridge Locator Restored
I believe I have restored functionality to the Bridge Locator's BridgeHunter search. This should allow you to once again find bridges around you that are in the BridgeHunter database. I have not had time to restore LandmarkHunter or BridgeReports.com searches on the Bridge Locator.
August 29, 2023: HistoricBridges.org To Be Idled For An Uncertain Period
A detailed discussion from author and webmaster Nathan Holth:
This year marks 20 years of operating HistoricBridges.org, which was originally started as a subdomain website named Historic Bridges of Michigan and Elsewhere. Twenty years later, HistoricBridges.org offers documentation of selected bridges as far away as Vietnam. The last months have been a regrouping and reassessment for HistoricBridges.org following the most comprehensive and continuous set of updates over the pandemic period. While initially the intent had been to continue to operate the website as it has been, after reflection on the state of North America (the primary coverage area for this website), the time and money required to add bridges to this website, the cost-benefit of this website (for all the work I put in how many bridges were saved?), and a number of personal issues in my life, the decision has been made to "idle" the website as a permanant exhibit of a fixed (not growing) list of bridges, similar to the Historic American Engineering Record.
Why is HistoricBridges.org Being Idled?
Actions have consequences! Too many bridges have been demolished. The purpose of this website was to SAVE bridges (read the slogan: Promote Preservation). It was intended to inspire preservation, and was not intended to become the largest historic bridge mausoleum on the Internet, although thanks to such agencies as MaineDOT, MoDOT, and PennDOT, and even such nondescript backwater organizations such as the Port Huron Yacht Club, that is exactly what it has become. While this trend of demolition has been slightly slowed over the past 20 years, and HistoricBridges.org can point to a number of bridges "saved" often with the help of Bach Steel, a company that restores historic bridges, and the Historic Bridge Foundation, the sheer effort and cost of visiting and photographing bridges does not yield the desired result that would justify that unpaid cost and effort. We had hoped our email inbox would be filled with people ready to write letters, ready to speak before city councils, ready to join Section 106 consulting parties, ready to join the fight to save historic bridges, ready to hire Bach Steel to install a historic bridge on a trail in lieu of a Con-Tech prefabbed mass produced "Walmart Bridge" or MOB (Mail Order Bridge). Yet 20 years later, most emails are from people asking why we didn't photograph some bridge, or looking for research help. Which is fine, but the real purpose was to promote preservation, not promote research and photography. Most of the time the only consulting parties are HistoricBridges.org and the Historic Bridge Foundation. That all would be fine, if it came with a helpful dose of emails from people asking how they could help. But sadly, most Americans and Canadians only want to photograph bridges or research bridges. Very few want to save bridges. After 20 years, the surviving historic bridges are spread so far apart that the cost to even photograph 10 additional truss bridges requires such travel time and expenditure that it is no longer worth it to the author of this website. The combination of cost, combined with limited public interest in historic bridges makes the status quo of annual "bridge trips" to expand the website completely illogical to continue at this time.
The truth is over the past 20 years most of the most unique and most interesting bridges (the bridges that got the author interested in bridges in the first place) have all been demolished. To make matters worse, even some the bridges in which HistoricBridges.org had a hand in saving have been serious disappointments. PennDOT's defense of the absolutely horrific Messerall Road "restoration" (the top chord was perfectly curved until the restoration was completed; now its crooked and composed of multiple short pieces of straight steel crudely welded together), as well as the demolition of the Port Huron Railroad Bridge was one of the last straws. When this bridge website was started in 2003, it began in St. Clair County, Michigan. Indeed, the loss of the Port Huron Railroad Bridge, a nationally significant bridge located in St. Clair County, seems an appopriate moment to bring the HistoricBridges.org project to an indefinite pause for now, since it was actually another St. Clair County bridge, the Ford Road Bridge, whose collapse in 2002 triggered the creation of this website, at the time known as Historic Bridges of Michigan and Elsewhere.
At the same time, the tragic death of James Baughn in 2021 was a major blow to me personally. He was a close friend and the author of BridgeHunter.com, a website I used on a daily basis in the effort of maintaining this website (we were NEVER competitors, we were close friends who loved each other's websites!). Despite my love of the BridgeHunter website, when he died I wanted nothing to do with maintaining his website because it takes so much effort to manage this website and his website was far far more complicated and written in code I did not understand. However, the Historic Bridge Foundation talked me into assisting them in an effort to keep the aging website code online and running, which we did until the old code finally gave out. From that day forward the Foundation and I have been working our butts off to try to get a hired web developer to complete their contracted task of moving the entire BridgeHunter database to a new website code (developed by this third party website developer) and this effort has been one of the most frustrating and stressful things I have ever done (despite my main role being to ensure all features of the old website appear on the new website), this is a testiment to the fact that the website code is so detailed and complex even a professional website developer had no idea what they were getting into. The effort to try to get BridgeHunter online continues to this day and myself and the Foundation are committed to getting it back online and in a usable state. It has not been fun. Despite the Foundation spending its limited budget to try to save BridgeHunter we have all been innundated by some of the rudest comments from people who think the Foundation "wrecked" the website, which is untrue. The website would have died in 2021 if the Foundation and myself had not intervened and backed up the entire old website to a hard drive, and also kept it running for the public for two more years in the original form. And on top of that, we continue to work with the developer and hope to get BridgeHunter "fixed" and renewed in time to come. However the stress from that and the staggering loss of historic bridges due to demolition has strangled my love of historic bridges to death. What started as a hobby to explore and celebrate the joy and beauty of historic bridges has turned into a nightmare that has left me with a dwindled interest in historic bridges.
And even tonight as I finish this narrative, trying to ignore my Google Feed stuffed with photos showing a unique pair of suspension bridges blown to bits last weekend, I wonder if the Drew Bridge, one of the most significant historic bridges... a bridge so rare it should have been placed indoors in a museum... will withstand hurricane force winds about to batter Florida. Where I live (for now) in the Lansing, Michigan area, I cannot even go get groceries at Meijer without taking a special route around where my favorite local bridge, the Okemos Road Bridge once stood. I cannot even walk the campus of Michigan State University (a university with a massive College of Engineering with professors and students more than capable of designing a nice looking bridge or relocating a historic bridge for reuse) without seeing the cheap, mail order, pre-engineered piece of pedestrian garbage they erected as part of a comprehensive Farm Lane Bridge replacement project at the heart of the historic center of campus. It is clear to me that HistoricBridges.org as it has been for 20 years cannot go on, if for no other reason than my own personal wellbeing.
Above: The collapse of this St. Clair County, Michigan bridge in 2002 triggered the creation of this website.
Above: The completed demolition of this St. Clair County, Michigan bridge in 2023 marks the idling of this website.
The Future and Will Any Updates Take Place?
I will be moving to Vietnam in October to pursue a new career that has nothing to do with historic bridges nor the American politics that led to their demise. This process of adjustment will be significant for me personally. Expect to see little to no activity beyond updating the status of existing bridge pages for at least a one year period. Once that is passed, I do have some remaining photos I took of bridges that I would still like to add to the website. I do also have some friends in the USA who may contribute some material from time to time. These materials may eventually be added at a far slower rate.
I also have no plans to shut down this website and intend to keep it running for as many years as I can. It just won't be updated like it has in the past.
Once the new Bridgehunter.com website is online, we may contibute selected photos to that website as well, although we are waiting to see the new BridgeHunter website come online before making any decisions on that.
Will Emails Be Responded To?
In most cases, no! Responding to email took hours each week. Over 50% were people asking questions that could be answered using Google or Bing/ChatGPT. We will no longer be assisting with "saving" bridges, people doing research, or general questions about bridges. Between Google, ChatGPT, etc there really is no reason why you cannot find answers using search tools. Once the new Bridgehunter.com website is online, its forum will be an ideal place to get questions answered as well. We are only interested in emails regarding factual errors, corrections, status updates, etc. Looking to save a historic bridge? If the bridge is a iron or steel bridge, please first get your funding in line (I suggest Transportation Alternatives "TAP" funds), and then contact Bach Steel who will be happy to quote or bid an in-kind restoration to turn your historic bridge into like-new condition, ready for another century of use. They are the best in the country and I trust them completely to give the best possible restoration. They are not a charity however, and expect to pay market price for the work involved. Historic bridge preservation is not cheap!
The Final Hall of Shame
A long time ago, this website had a feature called the "Hall of Fame and Shame" which highlighted top preservation projects, and top atrocities against historic bridges (demolition). As many people might be wondering why this website is suddenly going into a idle state, take a look at a couple of the influential, terrible losses of historic bridges that HistoricBridges.org covered in 2022-2023 that helped bring us to this moment today. The below bridges were some of the finest and most unique historic bridges in North America, bridges that should have been treated like the Brooklyn Bridge as irreplacable bridges that should have been preserved to the highest degree of quality at all costs. All of these bridges would be "Grade I listed" if the USA and Canada protected its historic bridges using the United Kingdom system for grading and protecting historic structures.
Port Huron Railroad Bridge (See Below Photo, Courtesy Leann Cotton) - This bridge used by almost all area boaters to find the mouth of the Black River, was demolished by the Port Huron Yacht Club who bought the land the bridge sat on and aggressively fought successfully to wipe this nationally significant bridge off the face of the earth, one of only eight Abt bascule bridges ever built on Planet Earth. Why remove this bridge? They claimed this bridge was the only spot on the property where they could put a "judging platform" for sailboats. HistoricBridges.org needs to platform to judge the Yacht Club to be the shame of Port Huron! Lets take this opportunity to remember that the Port Huron Yacht Club is so insignificant in the yachting world that it does not even host the famous Port Huron to Mackinac Yacht Race! That honor is given to another club way down in Detroit; the race only starts in Port Huron because that is where Lake Huron begins.
Above: Port Huron Railroad Bridge demolition as seen from Canada. Photo Credit: Leann Cotton
Messerall Road Bridge - It is rare for a preserved bridge to make the Hall of Shame, but it does happen! HistoricBridges.org fought for many years to try to save this abandoned bowstring. The end result? PennDOT let the contract to a low bidder who failed to predict the challenge of replicating Keystone column sections in a true parabolic shape. A bid by Bach Steel who DID understand the challenge and proposed a working repair method was REJECTED due to not being low bidder. They even asked a public question during bidding about this, and priced the work accordingly yet they did not get the job because the work always goes to the lowest bidder even if the lowest bidder has no clue what they are doing! PennDOT allowed the awarded contractor to improperly install a straight section of new chord section which due to its straight shape does not connect properly at the splice. When HistoricBridges.org reported these problems, PennDOT went on the record saying the bridge (a fracture critical bridge with misaligned top chord sections!) could handle 90PSF and did not require correction. In other words, PennDOT thinks the bridge is fine! Take a look at the photos below and see if you agree with PennDOT. This is your tax money NOT at work! The bridge looks worse now than it did abandoned!
Chicago's Bridges Book Now Available!
By Nathan Holth, author of HistoricBridges.org, this book provides a discussion of the history of Chicago's movable bridges, and includes a virtual tour discussing all movable bridges remaining in Chicago today. The book includes dozens of full color photos.
Only $9.95 U.S.!
Looking For A Pedestrian or Light Vehicular Bridge?Whether you are a park, trail organization, college, city, or private landowner, you want your property to be something unique and special. Why settle for a boring, dull pre-fabricated pedestrian bridge when you can get a beautiful historic bridge to do the same thing? Many states maintain a list of bridges which you can acquire, relocate and restore, and other individually listed opportunities often are available. These bridges normally can be acquired free of charge, so use the money you were going to put toward buying a pre-fab bridge and instead use it to restore the bridge. Not sure how to restore a bridge? HistoricBridges.org can help guide you to people and firms that can help, or you can just get in touch with Bach Steel. Note: these bridges will be demolished if nobody acquires them.
View Currently Available Bridges List, Maintained By Historic Bridge Foundation
Support Historic Bridges With A Donation To The Historic Bridge Foundation:We do not seek donations for the operation of HistoricBridges.org, nor do we feature advertisements in our content. However if you are interested in helping the cause of historic bridges by financial means, we strongly suggest a tax-deductible donation to the Historic Bridge Foundation:
Historic Bridge Foundation
The Historic Bridge Foundation works to encourage government agencies and officials to preserve historic bridges, the Foundation provides consultation and guidance to individuals and groups seeking to preserve historic bridges. The expertise available at the Foundation is evidenced by the fact that HistoricBridges.org frequently refers people to the Foundation for further assistance beyond what HistoricBridges.org itself provides.
If you have any questions about why a donation to the Historic Bridge Foundation is worthwhile, feel free to contact HistoricBridges.org. Alternatively, learn more about the Historic Bridge Foundation at their website www.historicbridgefoundation.com.