Rating:
13 votes

County Line Bowstring Bridge

Photos 

Overview

Photo taken by Robert L Elder

BH Photo #103039

Map 

Facts 

Overview
Bowstring truss bridge over West Creek on Republic Road, northwest of Hollis
Location
Cloud County, Kansas, and Republic County, Kansas
Status
Open to one-lane traffic on a low-maintenance road
History
Built in 1876 as part of a four span bridge in the Concordia vicinity.
Design
Bowstring pony truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 74.1 ft.
Total length: 80.0 ft.
Deck width: 14.7 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.65353, -97.57286   (decimal degrees)
39°39'13" N, 97°34'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/622435/4390276 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Wayne
Inventory numbers
NRHP 89002192 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
KS 000150795103480 (Kansas local bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 17594 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 01/2015)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 25.9 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2013)
20

Update Log 

  • November 30, 2010: New photo from Joe Underwood
  • March 25, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Removed Phoenix Bridge Co. from Builders.
  • January 26, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Adjusted GPS Coordinates.
  • November 24, 2008: New photos from Robert Elder
  • November 15, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited History and Categories.
  • November 12, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Year Built
  • August 4, 2008: New photo from Robert Elder
  • July 23, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Updated Builders, NRHP record number and Categories.
  • October 2, 2006: Posted photos from Robert L Elder

Sources 

  • Robert Elder - robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Joe Underwood

Comments 

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted October 6, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

They appear to be wrought iron tubes, similar to what you might have seen on the overhead bracing on a King Bowstring.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted October 6, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I'm with you on this one Robert, I'm not convinced they are original but if they were added I think it was a long time ago. If this and the other little bowstring nearby both came from a large multi-span bridge then perhaps they were added when moved.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted October 6, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

... or at least I think they are original. The plates on the top chord do give me some pause though...

If these unusual vertical members are a later addition, then they were obviously added relatively early in the bridge's history.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted October 5, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Just restarting a discussion... or more specifically just solving a mystery surrounding the vertical rods...

I recently visited the Belleville bowstring Bridge, which is located a few miles north of this one. The Belleville bridge is identical to this one and was probably a part of the same multi span Bowstring over the Republican River at Concordia.

The Belleville Bridge has those same vertical members. They are fixed to the top chord via a cast-iron assembly. Thus, they are very clearly original to the bridge. I do not see any evidence of them being a later addition.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 23, 2016, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Nathan,

Unfortunately, my day job and my health have a bad habit of getting in the way. A certain Pratt has priority and I'm still waiting on something from Nels for it. The fun thing is that while the bridges sleep, the paperwork is slowly grinding forward.

Regards,

Art S.

PS. Thanks for the clarification of the patent. I must admit I didn't reread it prior to posting.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Well, it is a shame that they scrapped the Salt Creek Bridge. This is a bit surprising, given the fact that Cloud County seems to have a good reputation for preserving its bridges. The disappearance of the Clyde Railroad Bridge was a bummer as well. Hopefully, this is not a bad harbinger for the other bridges in the county.

According to the NRHP form, the bridges were moved at an unknown date. Apparently, Miller (Mahlon perhaps) of Cleveland and CBW put in bids for construction of the original bridge. The paperwork indicates that Phoenix won the bid, but of course these bridges were clearly WIBC products. I am assuming that the two other spans are long gone.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Don't get me started about that Salt Creek Bridge... its a long story that doesn't paint Kansas in a very good light because they did something very unscrupulous, but long story short they scrapped it.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nathan:

I figured that he would have launched one. His Bowstrings are on my bucket list.

I am not sure when these spans were relocated. I will check the KHRI database. I am also not sure what became of the Salt Creek Bridge after the remains were hauled out of the creek.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Robert... Squire Whipple probably would throw a tomato at you! Squire Whipple did have his own iron bowstring design (it was the first successful iron bowstring design in America), but his design for bowstrings wasn't a double-intersection.

The observation that the other spans have this detail is important to note. Do we know what year these bridges were relocated? However the fact that they were moved to the same county still could mean its an alteration. Its definitely suspect, looking at the collapsed photo of the Salt Creek bridge the verticals look like they have non-original-looking square plates resting on the top of the column.

This bridge was unfortunately out of my range during my last visit to Kansas.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Also, I should note that the nearby collapsed Salt Creek Bowstring Bridge had these verticals as well. Both spans were identical and were originally part of a four span Bowstring over the Republican River at Concordia.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nathan:

Hopefully, I can get back someday to do a thorough documentation. If you get back to Kansas first though, you might beat me to it. If I get good photos, I will let you know.

Pardon the bridge pun, but if the diagonal cross a vertical, would this be a "Whipple Bowstring"...Robert ducks for cover to avoid flying rotten tomatoes...

In all seriousness though, I appreciate your input. I did not recall seeing this feature before.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Art: Bummer! Its too bad you don't have a restored WIBC Pony Bowstring near you to compare! Let me know when you're ready to correct that and I'll get the ball rolling, so we can turn a derelict pile of scrap metal into a shiny new restored cast and wrought iron masterpiece. When the restored bridge is installed, you will see that in fact it does NOT have those extra vertical members.

In fact, Robert's observation is correct, the use of these extra verticals in all panels of a small WIBC pony truss is extremely unusual for any date of construction.

I believe the 1876 patent you refer to #184490. #184490 offers a drawing of the center panels only of a bowstring, and Job Abbott states that his patent is "designed to obviate the difficulty experienced in construction long-span arch-bridges" He goes on to refine this statement saying that the 1876 invention is economical for spans of 100 feet and over. The 1876 patent also describes a more advanced system of ties and subdivisions, which this pony truss does not have.

Thus, the mystery of the County Line Bowstring Bridge remains. Without additional photos, I cannot even ascertain whether the extra vertical members are an original detail or may in fact be an alteration.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Those are unusual, and something I hadn't noticed before!

Obviously not for hanging additional floor beams, I would assume they are simply to add some additional rigidity to the arches.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

That makes sense, given the fact that I had not seen this feature on older bowstrings.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Art S, (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Robert,

I believe that is one of the aspects of the 1876 WIBC patent for bowstrings.

Regards,

Art S.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted December 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I am hoping to return someday with my current camera to get better photographs of this one. For now, I wanted to point out that this bridge has a rather unusual feature: thin vertical rods that are located halfway between the main verticals. The diagonal members cross these verticals.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 12, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Somewhat like the portal bracing and truss bridge discussions that was bounced around here a while back, there seems to be some grey area. But on HistoricBridges.org I reserve the idea of a column for those patented built-up beams which should also have unusually shaped parts. There actually were many different designs of columns patented during this period. Simply go to Google patent search and type in wrought iron column and look at the results. The King Bridge Company top chords are really simple in design, with riveted plate and such, and as a result I wouldn't call them columns. Anyway, thats my two cents worth on it.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 12, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nathan:

Thanks for that link, it was very informative. Having lived in Decorah briefly, I al glad to see that the bridges of Winneshiek County, IA have been documented by your website.

The Column discussions on this forum have been interesting. To add a little more information, I have observed at least four distinctive bowstring top chord designs in Kansas.

1. The Keystone Columns used on this bridge as well as on the nearby Salt Creek Bowstring Bridge also in Cloud Co.

2. The "Phoenix Like" columns on the Independence Bowstring Bridge - see link in previous comment.

3. The square, built-up members associated nationwide with the King Bridge Company:

http://bridgehunter.com/ks/neosho/austin/

http://bridgehunter.com/ks/bourbon/marmaton/

4. A similar design used by the Buckeye Bridge Works:

http://bridgehunter.com/ks/shawnee/wea-creek/

All of these top chords, regardless of design, fabricator, or builder are examples of built-up members. It would not be a stretch for a fabricator to observe a King Bridge Co. or Buckeye Bridge Works design and create a larger built-up member suitable for a large through truss. Where should we pontists draw the line between columns and the newer, more standardized built up members commonly used on truss bridges?

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

From what I have observed, WIBC used Keystone columns and Phoenix Columns in its trusses. I have also been hearing rumors of a third type of column and I need to do some investigation in that regard. As for patents and history of WIBC bowstring, I brought together some of the more relevant documentation (HAER excerpts and the patent) to a single page here: http://www.historicbridges.org/iowa/freeport/index.php

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The columns on the Independence bridge don't appear to have the flat surface on each of the 4 sections that you see on most other WIBC bowstrings. I know they patented their tubular design, but without digging am not sure of the year. If the date of 1871 on the Independence span is correct, it might predate the patent and be an earlier design.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nathan:

Thanks for the feedback. I am glad that you mentioned the Wrought Iron Bridge Co. because I know of another WIBC Bowstring that appears to me to feature a different type of column:

http://www.bridgehunter.com/ks/montgomery/independence-bowst...

I don't know if those are Phoenix Columns or not, but I have been trying to identify them. The photos were taken during my early bridgehunting years so they are not the best. Columns are a rare find, so I have not gotten too familiar with them.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Robert:

You are right, the inventory is wrong. The columns are indeed Keystone style columns and are not fabricated by the Phoenix Bridge Company. The bridge itself was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company.

There is a Wrought iron bridge company bowstring in Ohio that has Phoenix columns, but to my knowledge its the only one with them.

County Line Bowstring Bridge - column identification question
Posted March 11, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Perhaps one of my fellow pontists is a better authority on Keystone and Phoenix columns that myself. I have always thought that the top chords on this bridge resembled Keystone columns.

However, according to the Kansas State Historical Society, this bridge was built in 1876 by the Phoenix Bridge Co. http://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?tab=details&in=029-0000-...

It would defy intuition that the Phoenix Bridge Co. would use columns fabricated by a competitor. Thus, I suspect that I have mis-identified the top chords. Any insight concerning these columns would be welcome.