Rating:
6 votes

Maple Rapids Road Bridge

Map 

Description 

Quite possibly the oldest remaining bridge to be constructed by the Variety Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio. The firm was better known for it's boilers and railroad frogs, as well as having constructed the observation towers at Valley Forge and Gettysburg. Bridges might have initially been more of an afterthought at VIW, but that would change with the purchase of the rival Buckeye Bridge Works in 1889. The Maple Rapids Bridge is the only known survivor from before the acquisition.

Facts 

Overview
Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Maple River on Maple Rapids Road
Location
Clinton County, Michigan
Status
Collapsed
History
Built in 1888 by the Variety Iron Works; Lost 2013
Builder
- Variety Iron Works of Cleveland, Ohio
Design
Pinned Pratt through truss
Dimensions
Span length: 92.9 ft.
Total length: 92.9 ft.
Deck width: 13.8 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 17.0 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.10961, -84.71197   (decimal degrees)
43°06'35" N, 84°42'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/686165/4775527 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Maple Rapids
Average daily traffic (as of 1994)
10
Inventory numbers
MINBI 19308H00012B010 (Michigan bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory 2010 and before)
BH 20018 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of March 2008)
Sufficiency rating: 19.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • April 4, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Bridge has collapsed
  • February 25, 2012: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added some information
  • July 7, 2008: Updated by Anthony Dillon: Builder

Sources 

Comments 

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 24, 2013, by Art Suckewer (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Frank,

Thank you for posting your pictures.

Regards,

Art S.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 23, 2013, by frank (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

Collapse

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 23, 2013, by frank fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

Pictures of the bridge

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 11, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I was in San Francisco for the past several days so I only got up to photo-document the demise of this bridge today. I have a full photo gallery of the collapsed bridge available here: http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/photos.php?br...

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 8, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Does anyone have any pics of the bridge? I'm looking for a couple to add in an article I'm writing.

Thanks

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 8, 2013, by frank fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

Yes,It is on it's side.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 7, 2013, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Frank,

Thanks for the info. What do you meanly 'just folded'. Is it just on it's side or has it buckled in some other way?

Regards,

Art S.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 7, 2013, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

The one side with no support was tipped in the water when we got there from the town side,I would think it happened sometime in the morning,We went around to the other side and I stood in front of the bridge,it made a groaning noise and a couple of rocks popped out.Wife said move so I moved over in front of the old stone house on the river.we heard more plopping of stones,Wind was blowing,after about 20 minutes a gust of wind and the wife said it is going over,so after 120 some years it went over on its side,without muh ado,just some splashing.I went back to the front of the bridge it looks like it just folded.To say the least we were in shock.i said there were people there when it opened and someone at the end.

Could it be pulled out of the water?Yes but if flooding occurs,there are some downed trees in the water.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 7, 2013, by Julie (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Looked to me that when the stone fell out the bridge tipped over and went sideways into the river. Be interesting to see if it broke at the floor beams.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 6, 2013, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Thanks Frank,

I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out what is going on in the first picture. In the second picture, it looks like one truss on it's side.

How badly broken are the trusses? Did the bridge break apart or just roll over?

Regards,

Art S.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 6, 2013, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

Bad quality pictures

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 5, 2013, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

I have some pictures on my trace phone,retrieving them may prove to be a problem.I posted a couple of pictures on facebook under my name poor quality.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 5, 2013, by Julie Bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge was on our radar and we tried to find a home for years. Tis a shame we can't get these pulled to safety. Our nonprofit is planning a restaurant river adventure that will eventually be able to provide funds for these at risk spans.

Too late for this one. It will cost the county more now to pull it out of the river.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 5, 2013, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Thanks Luke,

I am very aware or those pictures. I meant are there any pictures of the bridge collapsing and/or In the river?

Regards,

Art S.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 4, 2013, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)
Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 4, 2013, by Art S. (Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Any pictures?

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 4, 2013, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A sad ending to a little through truss that stood valiantly for many years while neglect and Mother Nature took it's toll. I had truly hoped that this elder example of the obscure Variety Irons Works might be moved before this could happen.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 4, 2013, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

Sad to say it is in the river,when we arrived it was partially over,we could hear the rocks falling out of the foundation on the bad side.It was groaning,within 20 miuntes it fell over into the river.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 5, 2012, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

4/04/2012 Still there!A little more twisted.Someone help this bridge!

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted February 26, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Good luck with donations Nathan. In all my years I have only seen one donation come from this site, not that I am complaining. That is why we started Workin' Bridges, so we didn't have to ask for donations. This is also a bridge that I have been trying to find another home for with BACH Steel. Oh it gets so complicated with bridges.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted February 25, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

The road commission fully supports having this bridge removed by preservationists. I would have had this bridge out except I need about $4000 to do it. Donations accepted.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted February 25, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This little bridge has been a warrior despite it distorted appearance. I really wish the county highway commission would work to have this span lifted off it's crumbling abutments and set to the side until a new home can be found.

If it falls in the drink the damage might not be repairable.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted February 25, 2012, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

March 30 2011

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted July 29, 2011, by Frank Fick (fickkats [at] aol [dot] com)

People are friendly in this area,The guy that owns the

sheep has waved a few times.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted May 6, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I think this bridge is an Elton John fan. As I got out of my car and walked towards the bridge today I swore I heard " I'm still standing " and yes it is.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted May 2, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Good news indeed!

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted May 2, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Great news to hear it was still there yesterday. River should continue to fall now.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted May 2, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I will be heading out to this bridge on Friday. A friend of mine was there yesterday and said its still standing. Water to starting to go down, so with fingers crossed I will have better pictures this weekend.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 29, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Well hopefully he will

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 29, 2011, by Bill Eichelberger (wallyum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I think that only the Big Kahuna can do that. ;-)

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

But didnt know how to take them out of the comment area

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by Bill Eichelberger (wallyum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Never mind. I see you've already moved some. ;-)

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by Bill Eichelberger (wallyum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Go ahead and post your pics directly into the bridge profile. None of the bridges you've posted so far have anything posted at all, if I'm not mistaken. If it's okay with you, I'll go back and repost them to the profiles. (Crediting them to you, of course.)

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I can do that. I need to get out there and get some better pictures anyway. The night I was out there I was pressed for time and didnt get the chance to get around to the north side

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

John,

Try approaching the bridge from the north. I used to approach the bridge from the south, but the north approach is much easier when roads are muddy and snowy. From the north, you park and walk back, but the road you park at is an actual in-use dirt road, not a dead-end state game access. You also will be on the high ground while walking back, so if the river is over its banks you have a much better chance to get close to the bridge.

I would greatly appreciate if you could visit the bridge next week and report on status, since if the bridge collapses I need to know, and it would save me a trip up there. I have already been up there two or three times this spring checking on it during previous high water periods.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Let me know when you plan on taking this on. I am more then willing to help out. Right now I am sure the road leading to this is under water but I will head out and check on it next week. I should have my 4 wheel drive back by then

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

FYI: We at HistoricBridges.org had developed a plan with the assistance of Bach Ornamental and Structural Steel to dismantle and store this bridge and were hoping to possibly initiate the project this summer when the ground dried up.

However the recent storms are bringing the Maple River up above flood stage. I have researched water levels in this area and this will bring the water above the floorbeams. The water does not seem to flow overly rapidly in flood stage, which is good, and for the past several years this fact seems to have kept the bridge from collapsing. The bridge has endured floods this high even in the last couple years when its precarious position was about the same as it is today. However all it takes is one large branch floating down the water and I believe this will be sufficient to cause collapse of the bridge.

Therefore, there is a significant chance this bridge will become part of our spare parts collection.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Ever been out to this bridge Tony? It sits in the middle of a state game area. Would be REALLY nice to see it restored as a walkway across the river.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Its amazing how " well " it is taking the way it sits. I was really worried that it would be gone when I got there

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by Michael Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] odot [dot] state [dot] or [dot] us)

It still amazes me every time I see one of the abandoned trusses with no deck buried in the brush somewhere in the mid-west.

With the exception of a few abandoned concrete tee-beam or arch bridges hidden off the highway on some old alignment you just do not see these kinds of abandoned truss structures around the Pacific Northwest. I can only think of a couple in Northern California that I have seen.

Maybe it is the rough terrain up in this corner of the country, where the road alignments have not changed much over the years. This led to the removal of the old structure to make way for the new.

Anyway, It is always neat to see the old hidden trusses from the Midwest.

Nice work John on showing us this one!

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This neat little span continues to hang on for dear life!

Would really like to see it lifted off the crumbling abutments and set aside for reuse before it crashes down and is lost forever.

This bridge was built around the time that Variety Iron Works had acquired the Buckeye Bridge Works and features very unique portal bracing.

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 28, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Wasnt sure I was going to be able to ge to this bridge. Im sure that today the road is flooded.

You can really tell how much the south east corner has dropped in two of these pictures

Maple Rapids Road Bridge
Posted April 26, 2011, by John Berry (jberry3479 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I have some pictures if interested