3 votes

Clarks Creek Bridge


Photo taken by Robert Elder in April 2013


BH Photo #253002


Through truss bridge over Clarks Creek, 5.5 mi. south and 3.0 mi. east of Wreford
Geary County, Kansas
Built ca. 1880, rehabilitated ca. 2012-2013.
- Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Works of Leavenworth, Kansas (likely fabricator) [also known as Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co.]
Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 99.1 ft.
Total length: 101.0 ft.
Deck width: 16.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.5 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.87667, -96.78833   (decimal degrees)
38°52'36" N, 96°47'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/691854/4305415 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory numbers
KS 000310879404545 (Kansas local bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 17741 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of October 2017)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 22 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • July 7, 2016: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Builders
  • April 29, 2013: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited history.
  • February 16, 2011: Updated by Robert Elder: Incorporated new NBI data


  • Robert Elder - robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com


Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 7, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Good call. I have edited as suggested.

The October 11th, 1879 Edition of the Junction City Union includes an article calling for iron bridges to be built in rural areas of the county, including over Clarks Creek. I don't know if this was one of those bridges or not.


Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 7, 2016, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I would have to agree Robert

I usually label bridges like this with the builder's name followed by "Likely Fabricator" in parenthesis. Jim Cooper has taught me never to completely assume something without proper documentation. ;-)

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 7, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Upon further review...

This bridge looks exactly like a Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Works product from ca. 1880. It is identical (or at least nearly identical) to these ones from 1879 and 1880 respectively. The difference, is that this one is missing any plaques that it may have had.



I am confident enough that it is a MVB&IW product, that I have added the category.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted April 30, 2013, by Robert Elder

Okay I guess they have demolished a couple of pony trusses since then.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted April 30, 2013, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nathan, that is a good point. We have seen plenty of stone abutments give way recently. I am just glad to see that this one got preserved.

I have been bridgehunting in Geary County since the mid 1990s. The only trusses that have been demolished since that time (that I know of) were on state or federal highways. To the best of my knowledge, Geary County has not demolished a truss bridge in roughly 20 years. That is pretty remarkable if you ask me!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted April 29, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

After this spring, I couldn't be happier to see the abutments replaced. Stone abutments are pretty, but far to many sturdy trusses are brought down by faulty stone abutments. One solution is to reconstruct abutments in concrete and reuse old stones as decorative facing.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted April 29, 2013, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

As you can see from my photographs, this bridge has been rehabilitated and re-opened to traffic. The stone abutments have been replaced, but the truss remains.

In a perfectly ideal world, we would still have stone abutments to look at, but Geary County needs to be commended for preserving this bridge. This county has also done a good job preserving and maintaining other historic bridges under its jurisdiction.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted February 16, 2011, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have incorporated new NBI data for this bridge. Two major changes:

The bridge is open to traffic (it had been listed as closed)

The bridge is now considered to be possibly eligible for the NRHP.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 23, 2010, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

The portal bracing can offer a clue. Simple A-frame bracing is typically used on newer (1900-1920) bridges, while more elaborate bracing (such as the lattice on this bridge) often indicates a slightly older bridge. Of course, there's plenty of exceptions.

At some point, I'd like to compile a reference guide showing the different styles of portal bracing and which companies built each during which time period. That's a major undertaking, though...

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 23, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Substructure/abutments only tells you something about the age of the bridge superstructure (truss) if you know for a fact the following two items:

1. The bridge did not reuse abutments from a previous bridge (this happened quite a bit) Even as late as the 1930s, stone abutments would be reused for bridges... Tidioute Bridge in PA was built upon former bridge's stone abutments: http://www.historicbridges.org/truss/tidioute/index.htm

2. The bridge sitting on the abutments was not moved from another location (this happened more than you might think back during the time of these bridges) A ca.1880s East Delhi Bridge in Michigan was moved from another unknown location in 1918 to replace a former truss bridge destroyed by tornado. http://www.historicbridges.org/truss/edelhi/

An observation of the structural details and how standardized they are can help determine a truss bridge's age. The bridge could also be tested to see if it is wrought iron or steel. These do not yield exact results either, but they can help. Member size can also help.. for instance the lightweight portal bracing and relatively lightweight members suggest an older bridge. On the other hand I fail to see any "innovative or distinctive details" which suggests it is an 1890-1905 bridge. A bridge from this age could be either wrought iron or steel, this was the transition period.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks for the feedback. I was looking at the stone columns, and I would agree that they are a good indication that the bridge may be pre-1900.

I have seen several examples bridges that appear to be on concrete abutments, but the truss looks potentially older. As a classic example: http://www.bridgehunter.com/ks/lyon/560951005247/

In the case of the Clarks Creek Bridge, the truss and columns seem to "agree" however.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

One of the keys to look at is the abutments. It is usually a tell-tale sign of a bridge built before 1900. Concrete became the standard about then and was much cheaper to erect. The exception would be a new bridge replacing an earlier span. In the case of this bridge I think the abutments are original to the bridge, which probably was built in the 1880's-1890's.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have seen this bridge, but have not yet had a chance to photograph it. Larry Hornbaker has an excellent photograph at http://ke2013.smugmug.com/keyword/bridge#435118976_KAQVi

This bridge, like others in Kansas, may be older than the default date of 1910. It may be constructed of wrought iron.