2 votes

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge


Photo taken by Nick Schmiedeler


BH Photo #443367


Street View 


Long story long - discussing Kansas bridges today on an "Abandoned Kansas" Facebook page when I got into a discussion with a woman named May Smith out of Girard, Kansas who told me of some tiny bridges in her area. Without thinking much more about it, got home from work and she had set out the same day in her SUV to take photos of one of her favorites, and this is the gem!! Not sure the last "open to traffic" kingpost that turned up that was previously unknown, but this thing is an amazing survivor, all thanks to May Smith for uncovering this treasure. As always, would love any input on age, maker, particular design nuances, etc. Thanks May!!


Kingpost pony truss bridge over Elm Creek on 610 Road
Crawford County, Kansas
Open to traffic
Kingpost pony truss including outriggers, wood deck planks, built on stone block abutments.
Span length: 18.0 ft.
Total length: 18.0 ft.
Deck width: 12.0 ft.
Also called
May's Gem Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.49997, -94.94992   (decimal degrees)
37°29'60" N, 94°56'60" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/327638/4152123 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 84406 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Crawford County, Kansas (25)
Have street view (24,544)
Kansas (2,903)
Kingpost truss (151)
Open (37,869)
Owned by county (19,428)
Pony truss (15,396)
Span length under 25 feet (6,221)
Total length under 25 feet (2,173)
Truss (30,488)

Update Log 

  • February 7, 2019: New Street View added by Mike Kerkau
  • February 7, 2019: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler


  • Nick Schmiedeler - nick [at] nickschmiedeler [dot] com
  • Mike Kerkau - mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com


Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 8, 2019, by Daniel

I agree that the bent ones appear to be rolled members (probably I beams but maybe channels? and not wide flange) while the straight ones are rectangular tubing.

I'm not confident that the outrigger on the bent side is cruciform, the other one is.

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 8, 2019, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

The street view makes this bridge even more interesting. To begin, the street view confirms that this bridge does in fact have cruciform outriggers. The verticals are simply cylindrical members of some sort.

Now here is the weird part - according to the street view, it appears that the top chords on one side of the bridge are in fact rolled members as I thought previously yet the top chords on the other side appear to be box beams. Are my eyes just messing with me? Is this just a street view bug? Or, do we really have mismatched top chords?

If one set of top chords really does comprised box beams then this bridge would obviously be a frankenbridge.

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 8, 2019, by Nick Schmiedeler (nick [at] nickschmiedeler [dot] com)

Thanks for posting street view, Mike. A pretty scenic shot there really, and able to see great views of some more bridge detail. I don't mess with street view often, would love to capture that pic without the "610 Ave." blurring the screen, easy way to "clean" the image, like in Google Earth? Not seeing any setting....amazing little bridge, can't wait to hear more when further research is done - think May also spoke of going to county offices to see what she might dig up, this would be incredibly helpful also. Again....great find, May

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by Mike Kerkau (mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com)

It's amazing to me which super-rural areas actually come up as having an available StreetView (and this one's from 2014 at that).

And this has a lovely forest setting (well, there's not actually much of a forest, but it certainly looks the part).

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Neat little bridge! I hope this road see's no traffic as this one has some issues, with one truss having both members bent and the other one leaning! Certainly looks like it could be 1880's but I agree with Nathan in that some detail shots would help in a more specific determination.

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Many thanks to May for getting these photographs. I have heard that the weather in Kansas has been very unpleasant the last couple of days.

Thanks to Nathan for explaining this so well with the red crayon. Those three critical points do tend to provide a lot of good information.

I still cannot rule out the possibility that this might be a home-brewed bridge. In other words, I think there is a chance that it might have been built by locals instead of a mainstream bridge company.

My first thought was Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company but I cannot think of any bridges of theirs that used a single rolled beam for the top cord. Normally their bridges would feature built up members on the top chord.

The only mainstream company that I can think of that used rolled beams in the 1870s and 1880s was the Columbia Bridge Works. This bridge does not look like their typical product however.

This is all to say that this bridge, to me, does not perfectly match the work of any company with which I am familiar. That being said, in the 1870s and even in the 1880s a lot of mainstream bridge companies were still experimenting with their designs and often changed their designs from year to year.

For some reason, Kansas seems to have an unusually high number of non-standard bridges. This might be one of them. I really think that it could have potentially been pieced together by locals.

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by also curious

May thanks for making the journey! Rough coursed stone abutments would also indicate 1860 t0 80. May if any evident tool marks on the stone that you can get a shot of safely would be of interest also.

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by May Smith (may [dot] maus [at] icloud [dot] com)

I will get those pics when our weather gets better- itís super cold & icy out right now 😀

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

May: Would it be possible for you to take close up photos showing the areas of the bridge circled in red? This would assist in understanding the age, design, and history of the bridge as to whether it is original or altered.

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by May Smith (may [dot] maus [at] icloud [dot] com)

Iím so excited that our lil bridge is so rare- had no idea - there is no plaques of any kind giving a date- I will look again when the weather gets better around here. Glad to be able to share Crawford Countyís hidden gems!!

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by Nick Schmiedeler (nick [at] nickschmiedeler [dot] com)

Brilliant - thank you Robert for info. Guessed 1880's.... And I just did a quick advanced search on this website and it appears that this would be the only true non-covered, public "open to traffic" kingpost bridge in America (that's been listed I suppose)....very, very rare bird then found by May, yes?

Elm Creek Kingpost Bridge
Posted February 7, 2019, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This is a most interesting structure. It appears to have cruciform outriggers. These cruciform outriggers are always a great discovery and they were frequently used by both the King Iron Bridge Company and the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron company. Both companies were very active in Kansas so either one is a possibility. The top chords are simple rolled beams. The vertical appears to connect with the top chords in a rather unusual fashion but I cannot discern the details from the photos.

Of course, this is Kansas which has more than its fair share of weird and unusual Frankenbridges. Thus, we cannot completely rule out the possibility that it might have been designed by a creative County Engineer and built from whatever scrap material might have been laying around at the county yard that week.

Regardless of the exact builder, This appears to be a very old bridge. I would not be surprised if it dates to the 1880s or even the 1870s. This one should receive a very high priority for preservation.