Rating:
6 votes

Cottonwood River-Bellefontaine Bridge

Photos 

KSHS Photo

BH Photo #167455

Map 

Facts 

Overview
Pratt through truss bridge over Cottonwood River
Location
Marion County, Kansas
Status
Abandoned with deck removed.
History
Built ca. 1890
Builder
- Bellefontaine Bridge & Iron Co. of Bellefontaine, Ohio
Design
Six panel, pin-connected Pratt through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.30475, -97.01544   (decimal degrees)
38°18'17" N, 97°00'56" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/673523/4241491 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Marion
Inventory number
BH 43721 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 27, 2017: Updated by Dave King: Added category "Deck removed"
  • April 6, 2017: Updated by Robert Elder: Refined status description.
  • April 2, 2017: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler
  • June 8, 2011: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Categories.
  • September 13, 2010: Updated by Anthony Dillon: fixed wayward red marker
  • July 14, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Added to Cottonwood River (Kansas) category
  • June 13, 2010: New photo from Anthony Dillon
  • June 13, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Status and Status Description
  • December 8, 2009: Added by Robert Elder

Sources 

  • Robert Elder - robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Nick Schmiedeler
  • KHRI PDF
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com

Comments 

Cottonwood River-Bellefontaine Bridge
Posted April 6, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I just added a PDF for the KHRI listing for this bridge. The KHRI has added some additional photographs in the last few days and has also listed a construction date of 1895.

The bridge is not currently considered NRHP eligible, but that decision was probably made back in the 1980s when iron bridges (Including Bellefontaine spans) were much more common than they are today.

Cottonwood River-Bellefontaine Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yes, this one is definitely worth saving. There are very few Bellefontaine Bridge products left now. They are just as rare as P.E. Lane and CBW bridges, even though they tend to be a bit newer. This is a very important bridge and should be considered a high priority for restoration.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Yes... Needs to be plucked from it's perches and put in a park!

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I was hoping to see plaques still on the bridge, but I am thrilled to see that this one is still standing. Thanks to Nick for showing us the condition of the bridge today.

This one does look precarious. The lattice portals are a bit distorted. This could be the result of an accident, or it could indicate that the bridge is shifting on its foundation. I would hate to see this one collapse. It is a beautiful bridge even without the plaques.

I don't know how the locals feel about this bridge, but hopefully they care about it. If you have never seen a favorite bridge collapse, you will just have to trust me that it is not a pleasant feeling. It is heartbreaking to go to a bridge and see it crumpled. Been there, done that. Restoration is always preferable to recovery.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

And yes Nick... It's a pretty rare Bellefontaine! Thanks for your diligence on these treasures!

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A shame to see the plaques gone! County might have removed them... But more than likely in a private collection.

Bridge looks a bit precarious... But not as bad as some I've seen!

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Nick Schmiedeler

Approaches on both sides removed/collapsed, tried to capture this in photos

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted April 2, 2017, by Nick Schmiedeler

First approached public, overgrown-road side on the east off Timber Rd walking through 6" mud - fun stuff, til I arrived, very pretty, no plaque unfortunately, snapped a few photos, then went around to west side and talked to property owner who allowed me and his Labrador to walk to the other side of the bridge, again no plaque but plenty of good views, especially of great east side abutment - love this one, hope it's one of those rare-bird manufactured bridges that have been discussed in this thread in the past

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted February 3, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I had to look up the spelling the first few times as well.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted February 3, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Yeah, I botched the spelling late last night!

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted February 2, 2017, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Interestingly there is a Bellefontaine bridge plaque on ebay right now: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-1895-Bellefontaine-Bridge-Ir...

The $500 starting price is well beyond my budget for any plaque (and my personal opinion of its worth when its not attached to a bridge) but this price is lower than most sellers try to (and usually fail) to sell plaques for at this size and ornamentation. I noticed this plaque also has a lot of "watchers" so maybe you bridgehunters are all getting ready to pounce on it?

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted February 2, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yes, I can't believe how rare Bellefontaine products are becoming. I have read through the Ohio surveys of Bellefontaine bridges there. Sadly, most of those were not considered NRHP eligible. Neither was this on in the 1980s. I would imagine that it would / should be eligible now.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted February 2, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

...Also this Bellefountaine!

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted November 18, 2011, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Slight correction to previous comment. Bridge is extant as of AUGUST 2011.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted November 17, 2011, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Another Google Earth update reveals that this bridge was extant as of September 2011, but the deck has been removed. See comments below for a detailed discussion of the substantial historical significance of this bridge.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted June 8, 2011, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

HSB again...

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted November 4, 2010, by Sheldon Wiens (sheldon_wiens77 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Yes, this bridge needs more than one photo. This should require the plaque, underneath, river view, etc.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted June 13, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Anthony - you should definitely be like Dorothy and head to Kansas. With all of these lost bridges showing up in random places (two in Marion County just this weekend), any bridgehunter could be kept busy for a long time.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted June 13, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Anthony - I was wondering about that lattice portal bracing and the curved knee bracing as neither of these features are seen on other Bellefontaine Bridge and Iron structures. Most of the BB&I bridges have A-frame bracing, even though they were built pre-1900 when this simple bracing was less common.

I think that there might be two viable theories here:

1. You are correct that the bridge was designed by a county engineer.

2. The bridge is considerably older than other remaining BB&I structures, hence the lattice portals. This would seem unlikely though, as the bridge is so far away from the headquarters of the company - assuming it was not built at an eastern location and moved to Kansas later.

To test these theories, we would need to know if county records still exist. I have been trying to figure out when BB&I was established as that information would be very useful.

Also, thanks for posting the KSHS photograph. I have been a little afraid to do this as I do not know who has copyright, although they may indeed be in the public domain as KSHS is a state agency. Of course, giving credit as you did is always a good move.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted June 13, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I posted the KSHS photo on here and it indeed has the Bellefontaine plaques on it. The portal style is different from the other BB&I spans I have seen, but this one may have been designed by a county engineer and Bellefontaine was simply the fabricator.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted June 13, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

You gotta love that Bing Bird's eye! These recent finds are making me want to be like Dorothy....and go back to Kansas (Okay....so I've never been there!)

Looks like there may be a farm lane up to this bridge from the East......Hard to tell about the West approach.

Cottonwood River Bridge - confirmed extant!
Posted June 13, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

The status of this rare Bellefontaine Bridge & Iron Company bridge has been upgraded from unknown to abandoned. Previously, I had suspected that the bridge was lost.

Bing Maps Bird's Eye has confirmed that this bridge was still extant as of the date that the aerial photographs were taken.

At the time of this comment, this is the only Bridgehunter listing of a Bellefontaine Bridge and Iron Company bridge outside of Indiana and Ohio.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted March 10, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

A brief update to a previous post. The bridge was located in the southwest quarter of Section 17, Township 20 South, Range 4 East. That would put the bridge on 160 Road, not 150 Road. This is good news as there is no UCEB on 160 Road. Thus, there is a possibility that this historically significant bridge may be extant.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted January 4, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Reply to Jason:

I was not familiar with the Bellefontaine Bridge and Iron Co. until I discovered the KSHS listing for this bridge. Most of the extant bridges constructed by the company seem to be in a small area of Ohio with Indiana and Kansas each having one known example. Good luck with your research.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted December 30, 2009, by Jason Smith (admin [at] locoohio [dot] com)

I'm currently researching the Bellefontaine Bridge and Iron Company to do a series on my website and do you guys know of any history of this company you can point me to?

(I live here in Bellefontaine since the late 80's and never heard of them. I just discovered the site here doing research for local history, but I love bridges and this seemed like a great subject to try and build a historical record of. I'm guessing what was the defunct Carter Steel was the location of that business, but I'm not sure.)

Any info would be greatly appreciated. I love bridges and history and I love to learn as much as I can. Thanks!

locoohio.com

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted December 8, 2009, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I should mention that I have discovered many bridges that were not included in the list of 1300.

I have looked at Google Earth for the Bellefontaine Bridges in Ohio. Some are still in place, but others have definitely been replaced. Perhaps these Bellefontaine Bridges are becoming as rare as the Columbia Bridge Works structures, if not more so.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted December 8, 2009, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thank you for posting that photo, Anthony. The plaque seems to be the same general shape as the ones on the bridge featured on the KSHS site. I would like to go hunting for this bridge, but I have moved to Texas, so it would have to be on a visit, if the road is even passable anymore.

Whether the bridge was on 160th or 150th depends on whether "3 miles south of Marion" was measured from downtown or from the southern city limits. Measured from downtown would put the bridge on 160th, where as I mentioned in the previous post, a through truss is visible on Terraserver.

Part of 160th road can be viewed on Google Earth Streetview, but trees obscure the potential location of the bridge. A "bridge out" sign is located west of the location, near a privat residence, but in Kansas "bridge out" is often synonymous with "bridge closed but stil extant on a very muddy road".

That new KSHS site has been a great discovery. There are over 1300 historic bridges listed there. I have been operating under the theory that most are lost, but some bridges may be re-appearing on roads that have been disused for decades.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted December 8, 2009, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

It would be nice if we could have someone in the area confirm if this span is still extant. Bellefontaine Bridges are rare in general, and one this far West would be unique. The only 2 examples of their work that I can verify are the beautifully restored Chinworth Bridge near Warsaw Indiana and the Indiana Avenue Bridge in Goshen, Indiana. Ohio has several listed, but unconfirmed examples, mostly of pony trusses. Below is the plaque from the Chinworth Bridge.

Cottonwood River Bridge
Posted December 8, 2009, by Robert Elder (bass-tbn [at] ku [dot] edu)

I am relatively certain that this bridge is the same as

http://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?tab=details&in=115-0000-...

The bridge on the KSHS webpage is describe as being located 3 miles south and 0.3 miles west of Marion, Kansas. This could put the bridge on either 150th or 160th road. The 1991 aerial view on Terraserver clearly shows a through truss bridge at the 160th road crossing of the Cottonwood River. The more recent Google Maps image shows a possible truss bridge at the same location.

I have set the GPS Coordinates on this page to the 160th road location, which I believe to be the most likely. This link shows both crossings:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=...

If the bridge was on 150th road, it is lost. If it was on 160th road, the status is unknown. Naturally, I hope that the bridge is still standing. If so, it would be the only Bellefontaine Bridge & Iron Co. bridge west of the Mississippi River that is listed on Bridgehunter.