Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

Cartwright Tunnel

This is a small sampling of photos from our visit to Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel in July of 2014.

If you’re interested in the history of this lift bridge, which was only raised once, you can check out our previous gallery featuring photos and captions from our friend R. David Adams, or you can read more about it at the MidRivers page, which has nice background on both Fairview and its twin, Snowden Lift Bridge.

Fairview Lift Bridge

There’s a campground in the shadow of this bridge where we intended to camp during our visit, but when we arrived, we found the place off-limits. We’re told some people had been abusing overnight camping privileges, so camping is no longer allowed.  We ended up in a jam and had to settle for last minute accommodations at a primitive campground some miles away.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Today, the bridge is a tourist attraction and a popular spot for watersports among locals. The bridge and tunnel are both handicap accessible. The gate shown above marks the west end, just above the parking lot.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

The sky was clouded by smoke from forest fires on the day we were there.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

This island is right in the middle of the Yellowstone river, which is one of the longest un-dammed rivers in the western hemisphere. William Clark devoted some time to exploring this river during Lewis & Clark’s return journey from the Pacific Coast. Just miles from here, it empties into the Missouri River.

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Fairview Lift Bridge, North Dakota

Cartwright Tunnel

The decaying ruins of the Cartwright tunnel were shored up and reconstructed between 2004 and 2006 by the North Dakota Army National Guard and Friends of the Fairview Bridge.

Cartwright Tunnel

Cartwright Tunnel

 We did not realize how big this tunnel was from photos. When you’re there in person, it is huge.

Cartwright Tunnel

The hike, from end to end, took us about 8 minutes.

Cartwright Tunnel

A neighbor’s dog accompanied us on our hike.

Cartwright Tunnel

Cartwright Tunnel

Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

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Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media

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18 Comments on “Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge

  1. The dog that accompanied you through the tunnel is named Koda. She and her little buddy Cartman, who had just recently been hit by a car and died, use the tunnel to go from their house on the West side of the tunnel to “Gramma’s house on the East side. She is still looking for him. Their owner, Marty Shaide, and the Shaide family own the land that the tunnel is on.

    I really enjoyed the video.

  2. I was there several times when I lived in Williston, ND and even climbed as high as I could up the bridge until there were no more steps.

  3. I enjoyed your video so much, I love there abandoned places in North Dakota, I love to use watercolor to render pictures of all these places, I loved seeing the inside of these places as well. I always wonder what the stories were of the people who lived and built these places. It is important work to have them documented before they disappear. Good Work! Thanks!

  4. My great Grandfather was a Cartwright that lived in grand rapids ND. he had many children, makes me wonder if any of them had founded the town of Cartwright

    • It is possible that your ancestor founded the town. Here is some info I found on the history of the town. It would be fun to trace it back. Cartwright is an unincorporated community in northwestern McKenzie County, North Dakota, United States. The community is named for Samuel George Cartwright, a rancher, trapper, and hunter, who was the first settler in the area.

  5. We took a trip out to the lift bridge as a 550 mile “day trip” from Bismarck ND. I kept comparing the bridge to the Duluth lift bridge. Fascinating structure.

    Loved the video.

  6. I Have jumped off the bridge into the yellostone. We camped here on a canoe trip from intake MT to FT Buford ND. It’s a great 5 day trip!

  7. Was the dog a husky by chance? I shot several photo shoots there last year and that darn dog was either in my shots or snuggling all over me as I tried to compose shots! Cute at first, but by the end he was driving me nuts!

  8. I have worked in Cartwright for almost 4 yrs and have visited the bride and tunnel several times. It is still interesting to this day. Any one that travels through the are should stop and marvel at these structures.

  9. We lived in Colstrip for 40 + years & every spring we would head up that way to paddle fish. Intake Is where we would go to, the most. Late 90’s we start going to Fairview & camp in the park &paddle fish under the bridge. It was fun exploring that area. Even tho I never went all the way through the tunnel, just until there was no lite. [ Afraid of bats] Often wondered what was on the other side. To bad you can’t camp in the park. That was a neat park.

  10. I love the photo of the Cartwright Tunnel. Is it alright if I save a copy to my desktop? I lived in ND in my early marriage in 1962.


  11. my dad told me stories of the bridge ,ships in ND just did not compute.

  12. Marvelous photos and video. Loved the video, gonna have to search for you folks over at YouTube to see more if available. Regarding the ships in North Dakota comments, the Fairview bridge as well as the Snowden bridge were both lift bridges due to regulations issued by the Dept. of War, later Dept of Defense that any bridges over navigable waters had to lift to allow steamboat traffic to pass underneath them.

  13. Are the Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Bridge info in the volume 1 special edition?

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