If you’ve followed this site for any length of time, you know we occasionally like to photograph bridges, for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s for their historic significance (like Caledonia and Romness Township bridges), and other times it’s because the bridge is huge and awe-inspiring, as is the case with the High Line, Karnak, and Gassman Coulee railroad trestles.
In this case, we’ve decided to photograph most of the historic automobile bridges of the Sheyenne River Valley, some abandoned but many still in use, while they still exist. Just like the structures of prairie ghost towns, these bridges are endangered by time and natural events. Floods, weather cycles, and normal wear and tear take a toll on these bridges, and without restoration, they will be gone someday. Also, it’s hard to resist the urge to go out and shoot photos when it’s sixty-some degrees in November.
Just a final note, I’ve labeled these bridges geographically, or in accordance with how I’ve seen them referenced online. If you know the official name of any of these bridges, please leave a comment.
Walcott Township Bridge
The Walcott Township bridge is in Richland County, about a mile or two south of Kindred, North Dakota, twenty miles southwest of Fargo. It is closed to all but foot traffic.
Richland County Bridge
This Richland County Bridge is along a decidedly lonely and particularly beautiful stretch of unpaved road, about two and a half miles southwest of the Walcott Township bridge shown previously, or seven and a half miles directly south of Davenport, North Dakota.
This bridge is in Richland County in the small rural community called Barrie, about eight miles southeast of Leonard, North Dakota, or twenty seven miles southwest of Fargo. Barrie Congregational Church, established in 1889, has a beautiful building just down the road from this bridge.
Shenford Township Bridge
This bridge is in Shenford Township, Ransom County, about thirteen miles northeast of Lisbon, North Dakota. As I traveled to the site, I was overcome with the ambience of the harvest as I passed farmers’ trucks lining the unpaved roads. I could see four pillars of smoke on the horizon from those who were already burning off their fields, and the smell of rich earth and smoke washed-over me.
I arrived to find a beautiful, steel bridge spanning the Sheyenne River. This bridge was built by Hewett Bridge Company sometime between 1907 and 1911. A pickup rumbled over the span while I was there and it was thunderous.
Colton’s Crossing is a 128-foot pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built by Hewett Bridge Company of Minneapolis in 1907. They were the main bridge contractor in Ransom County at the time, and they were also responsible for the other Ransom County bridges in this post. Colton’s Crossing is the oldest surviving through truss bridge in Ransom County.
Martinson Bridge is in Ransom County, about thirty miles south of Valley City, in the Sheyenne State Forest. This bridge was built in 1920 and has undergone substantial reconstruction and improvement over the years. Of all the bridges I visited on this day, this one was probably in the best condition.
Little Yellowstone Bridge
At the east end of the bridge — once a pleasant little roadside attraction, now vacant.
I wonder if Mindy and Nathan are still together.
This bridge is in Little Yellowstone Park, on the border of Ransom and Barnes Counties, just south of Kathryn, North Dakota.
In part two of this series we’ll be sharing more bridges in the region north of Interstate 94.
Photos by Troy Larson, © Sonic Tremor Media
12 thoughts on “Historic Bridges of the Sheyenne Valley, part one”
The bridges are all beautiful – from diifferent time epochs? Did you find houses, Church aso at Bear Creek, Northland township? Any photos from Northland in Ransom county?
We’ve researched Northland when you’ve mentioned it before. The Little Yellowstone photos are in Northland Township, but the actual townsite listed where Northland supposedly existed shows only a vacant farm, so we haven’t visited.
This is what remains at the “townsite” of Northland.
Same as above….
The Richland County Sheyenne River bridges are in my home neighborhood. Beautiful bridges, beautiful country. Thanks for documenting them.
cool stuff I live on cape cod a long way from you but I love North Dakota even though I have never been there and I am too old and too broke to get there so keep sending the mail Thank You CAPE COD BILL retired Scallop boat captain 41 years out of New Bedford mass go to Eastern Fisheries web site on the internet when you see the fishing fleet the FRIENDSHIP is the first boat I was Captain of THANKS again Guys Good job
Cool stuff. Love coming across those old bridges.
It looks like the Sheyenne River would be fun to explore by kayak from the views in the pictures.
I grew up in rural southern Indiana and in some ways the Sheyenne Valley reminds me of some that area. We had many of the old steel bridges in the area I grew up in. Many are still standing but new bridges have been put in to replace them but maybe mile down stream. Those old bridges can make some great places to fish.
We used to drive trucks and combines over Colton’s Crossing in the 70s. Good thing loaded trucks were under ten tons in those days. Combines were smaller in those days as well. To drive a pickup over the bridge today would have you holding your breath. Thanks for documenting these aging bridges.
Reblogged this on The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles and commented:
A while back, I came across this website Ghosts of North Dakota, a page that is devoted to abandoned places in North Dakota. The writer of this site, Troy Larson, wrote a lot of columns on historic bridges one can visit while traveling in North Dakota. Even though they were published more than seven years ago, they were shoved into the backburner and made unreachable in the research. The Chronicles is bringing these works to light in hopes that people will have a chance to visit them in the future.
This is the first of many parts you will see from time to time in the future. It’s that of the historic bridges that span the Sheyenne River, one of the longest in the state.
I’m Jason Smith of the BHC and I came across your website a while back while finding some bridges in the area. You’ve written a wide array of articles on this topic and since some of your articles have been pushed back into the backburner, I plan to reblog some of them so that the readers can find out more about them by clicking back to your website. It’s quite a collection and hopefully you will write more about them in the furture. Happy Bridgehunting and happy trails! 🙂 JS