The West Face
The Milwaukee River does not always look this bad. Heavy rains churned up lots of silt just prior to these photos being taken.
Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2007
Charles S. Whitney was a well known bridge designer in the early to mid 20th Century. Originally from Pennsylvania, he was educated as a civil engineer at Cornell, then came to Milwaukee in 1919 to be the engineer for an architect named A. C. Eschwheiler. (See the Wisconsin Gas Company Building on Nicolas Janberg's Structurae website.) Whitney later went to New York to join with Othmar Ammann, the bridge engineer to the New York Port Authority, to form the engineering firm of Ammann and Whitney. The firm went on to earn an international reputation for monumental projects, a reputation that it still enjoys today.
In 1929, Whitney published his treatise Bridges: A Study In Their Art, Science and Evolution. The book reveals his extensive knowledge of bridge history, which influenced his rather eclectic designs for bridges.
Other Whitney bridges in Wisconsin, included on this site, are the Highland Avenue Bridge in Cedarburg, Ozaukee County, the Lakeside Park Bridge in Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac County and two in the City of Racine, Racine County, the West 6th Street Bridge and the Mound Cemetery Bridge. The status of other Whitney bridges in Wisconsin is unknown. In his book, he listed the Reinforced Concrete Bridge in Gays Mills, Crawford County, the Otter Creek Bridge in Eau Claire, Eau Claire County and the Girder Bridge in Neenah, Outagamie County. (I believe the Girder Bridge in Neenah was replaced in the 1990s.)
The Range Line Road bridge is built of concrete, and like many depression era bridges in the area, it is clad with "Lannon Stone", a building material that is commonly used in the Milwaukee area. It was used extensively in Milwaukee County Parks during depression era construction projects for structures of all kinds, many of them were WPA projects.
From tiny control buildings to arch bridges to structures of many kinds, Lannon Stone is ubiquitous, even moreso than Cream City Brick, also a common building material in the area. Many county golf course buildings are constructed of the attractive, white stone, including clubhouses. For example, the impressive club house that overlooks the golf course in Brown Deer Park, is constructed of Lannon Stone. Brown Deer Park is the location of a PGA golf tournament, formerly known as the Greater Milwaukee Open.
The stone is actually dolomite but takes its name from the area, northwest of Milwaukee, from which it is quarried.
This bridge uses "Lannon Stone" for facing and parapet walls.
I'm unsure if this article is discussing rehab or replacement of this unique and beautiful Closed-spandrel concrete arch.
While researching this bridge and learning more and more about Charles S. Whitney, I found out that Whitney was greatly influenced by the design of medieval bridges. One that he listed in his book about bridge design was the Greystone (or "Greyston") bridge that crosses the River Tamar, that divides Cornwall from Devon. It was built in 1439 and is still in service.
I found this photo of the bridge on flickr, posted by Alan Rosevear. Mr. Rosevear is a prolific photographer of historic structures across the pond, and he was kind enough to allow us to post his photo here.
So here is the Greystone Bridge and the subject bridge on Range Line Road in River Hills. There is no doubt of the influence the medieval bridge had on Mr. Whitney.