1 vote

Johnson Bridge


Photo taken by Jack Schmidt


BH Photo #272528


Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Stillwater River on CR 249 in Absarokee
Absarokee, Stillwater County, Montana
Replaced by a new bridge
Fabricated by Morse Bridge Company between 1878 and 1888; Erected here by Security Bridge Co. 1907; replaced 2021
- Morse Bridge Co. of Youngstown, Ohio (Fabricator, ca. 1878-1888)
- Security Bridge Co. of Billings, Montana (Erection Contractor, 1907)
Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 108.9 ft.
Total length: 163.1 ft.
Deck width: 15.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 17.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Stillwater River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+45.52853, -109.46938   (decimal degrees)
45°31'43" N, 109°28'10" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
12/619521/5042805 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory number
BH 23178 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of February 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 22.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • September 5, 2021: Updated by Dave King: Added categories "5-panel truss", "Lally columns"
  • September 5, 2021: New photos from John Bernhisel
  • December 27, 2017: Updated by Dana and Kay Klein: Added category "Othmar H. Ammann Nominee"
  • December 5, 2017: Updated by Nathan Holth: Refined history and builder based on best available info.
  • June 5, 2016: New photos from David Jones
  • March 30, 2016: Updated by Nathan Holth: Corrected name.
  • January 6, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builder
  • January 6, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added builder, edited history.


  • Nathan Holth
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • David Jones - david2jpix [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • John Bernhisel - Johnmbernhisel [at] gmail [dot] com


Johnson Bridge
Posted September 5, 2021, by John Bernhisel (Johnmbernhisel [at] gmail [dot] com)

Sad to announce that the bridge is gone. Not sure if it was salvaged but I about cried when I found two massive cranes putting in an ugly concrete slab.

Johnson Bridge
Posted December 5, 2017, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I realized I never posted an interesting history I learned about this bridge. The bridge clearly is a Morse Bridge Company bridge, the portal bracing is identical to Michigan's Six Mile Creek Bridge's unusual portal bracing, right down to the place where the builder plaque belongs (which is mysteriously missing). What made this story interesting is Montana DOT's historian Jon Axline totally countered the idea that Morse built the bridge... he provided proof that Security Bridge Company erected the bridge in 1908. However we cannot deny the Morse Bridge Company details, the portal bracing is too unique to dismiss. I therefore believe that Security Bridge Company erected a reused and slightly altered Morse Bridge Company span. It is quite possible they did this unscrupulously, perhaps claiming that it was an all-new product. I believe they added the existing sway bracing (As a Morse bridge it may have originally had only upper laterals and no sway bracing or struts). They may also have carefully removed the Morse plaque to conceal the fact that it was a salvaged bridge.

Here is what Jon Axline told me:

Until October 1892, the future site of the Johnson/Kernís Crossing Bridge was in the Crow Indian Reservation, which precluded any structures like this from being constructed. I did the research on the Johnson/Kernís Crossing Bridge and can state conclusively that it was built in 1908 by the Security Bridge Company (Sweet Grass and Carbon counties let the contract in 1907). Attached is a copy of the Historic Property Form for the bridge, please note the sources used to determine the construction date.

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 2,488,907 bytes)

Stillwater River Bridge
Posted December 11, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

May be Doomed. Also known as the Johnson Bridge:


Stillwater River Bridge
Posted January 6, 2014, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Portal bracing indicates the bridge was built by Morse Bridge Company. Therefore, the bridge could not have been built in 1907. It may have been repaired or relocated at that time. I have a detailed discussion of the company here http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowse...

Stillwater River Bridge
Posted January 6, 2014, by Jack Schmidt (jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net)

Picture taken 7-3-13 My GPS N45 31.708 W109 28.170

On Johnson road

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.