Rating:
6 votes

Clarks Creek Bridge

Photos 

Photo taken by Nick Schmiedeler in October 2016

Enlarge

BH Photo #367566

Map 

Street View 

Description 

Bridge is on private property. As a courtesy to the landowner, please do not attempt to visit without permission. Landowner information will not be disseminated through this website.

The road was on the 1951 county road map along with state highway 18 built along the future I-70 alignment. Next edition was 1967 and the road was abandoned.

Facts 

Overview
Abandoned Whipple through truss bridge over Clarks Creek on Humboldt Creek Road (Abandoned Section - now Private)
Location
Geary County, Kansas
Status
Derelict/abandoned
History
Built 1878 by the King Iron Bridge Co. Abandoned after 1951.
Builder
- King Iron Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio [also known as King Bridge Co.]
Design
10 panel, pin-connected Whipple through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.06491, -96.72133   (decimal degrees)
39°03'54" N, 96°43'17" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/697144/4326451 (zone/easting/northing)
Land survey
T. 11 S., R. 6 E., Sec. 25
Inventory number
BH 72807 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 22, 2017: Updated by Dana and Kay Klein: Added category "Othmar H Ammann Award winner"
  • December 23, 2016: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Design Description
  • October 18, 2016: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited multiple categories.
  • October 16, 2016: Updated by Robert Elder: Added build date.
  • October 16, 2016: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler
  • October 15, 2016: Updated by Robert Elder: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Wrought Iron", "Cast iron"
  • October 15, 2016: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler
  • August 19, 2016: New Street View added by Robert Elder
  • July 15, 2016: Added by Robert Elder

Sources 

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

Comments 

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 27, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yes, and very deserving. Having lived in Geary County, I might be a bit of a homer, but I do believe that this privately owned bridge is one of the most significant discoveries in the history of Bridgehunter.

Nick's documentation of this bridge has greatly added to our knowledge of King Iron Bridge Co construction practices. This is currently the oldest known non- Bowstring bridge built by this firm. It has multiple unusual details that are either rare or otherwise unknown among non-Bowstring King products.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 26, 2017, by Anonymous

Othmar H Ammann winner!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 26, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Check out this eerily similar Pratt truss:

http://khri.kansasgis.org/createPDF.cfm?in=087-0000-00129&re...

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2017, by Anonymous

4500 voters from six continents might mean something

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2017, by Dana and Kay Klein

Most welcome! Although I did not nominate Clarks creek, must have been one of your other Bridgehunting fans.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2017, by Dana and Kay Klein

Nominations in December. Start thinking ahead for 2017! Hey How about Robert Elder for life time achievement?

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2017, by Nick Schmiedeler

Wow again - very cool - found the full award list online, was not familiar prior - so neat, thanks for the nomination - really an honor - truly a bizarre, unique and special old bridge for sure. Thanks again Dana and Kay

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted January 22, 2017, by Dana and Kay Klein

BRIDGE of the YEAR! Othmar H. Ammann awards. To quote a bridgehunter of renown, "Wow Just Wow!" Awesome Nick GREAT find

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted December 24, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yes, BRIDGES. That we can all agree on!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted December 24, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

City of Lecompton also, few miles from me here in Lawrence, also a hub of early pro-slavery actions of course, that history one of the key tourist-attraction selling points of that town for years - appreciate the interesting history but not all KS history is rosey stories...very much admire resolve of people like John Brown, James Lane that fought against slavery...anyway...BRIDGES!!!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted December 23, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Also, many thanks to Mr. Beavers for researching Geary County bridges. Having a personal connection with landowners is a great benefit.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted December 23, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

TL;DR: Many Kansas counties, such as Doniphan, Davis, and Atchison, were named after southerners by the 1855 "Bogus Legislature"

In 1855, Kansas Territory, with the help of their "friends" in Missouri, elected the Pro - Slavery "Bogus Legislature. Now, Kansas Territory might have actually elected a Pro - Slavery legislature without the help of the Missourians, but we will never know for sure.

What we do know is that the Bogus Legislature met in Pawnee, Kansas which is now on Fort Riley. Interestingly, Pawnee was located almost immediately across the Kansas River from this bridge. The original Capitol building was restored in the 1920s and still stands.

The Bogus Legislature quickly moved their operations to the Shawnee Indian Mission in present day Fairway, Kansas. The Shawnee Indian Mission, which is now a museum, was only one mile from Pro - Slavery Missouri.

The Bogus Legislature named several new Kansas counties after southerners. Davis County, as you might imagine, was named after Jefferson Davis.

Eventually, some of the Confederate named counties got renamed. Geary County was named after former Kansas Territorial Governor John Geary, who also served as mayor of San Francisco.

If you wish to visit the First Kansas Territorial Capitol, you will need to enter the Fort Riley checkpoint off of I 70. Bring ID, proof of insurance, etc. and plan for a wait to get in. Check their website in advance.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted December 23, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Oh wow, that is too cool, great article find!! "Davis County" threw me off, I knew there had been some extinct counties in Kansas but I had to look it up, not surprised "Free State" Kansas was adamant about changing a county named after some Confederate - curious how that happened in the first place. Anyway, neat article, would love to see a photo of the Mills on that site that were referred to. Thanks!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted December 19, 2016, by John Beaves (beaversj [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Here is a copy of the original newspaper legal posting to vote on the funding of this bridge, from the Junction City Union.. It is the last bridge, listed at Mitchell's Mills.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 24, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Mr. Beavers:

Thanks for letting us know about the owner's family. We at Bridgehunter offer our sincere condolences, thoughts, and prayers to him and his family.

I did not grow up in Geary County, but I spent several summers working at the Rock Springs 4-H Center south of Junction City. Thus, I certainly have many fond memories of the area. I drove a 1973 Cadillac in those days, and being a High School kid, I certainly had lots of fun taking it on the back roads in the region.

Mr. Keller:

Yes, these overlooked metal truss bridges are worth of preservation. Many of us are very thankful for the work that you have done to preserve your bridge. We are losing our truss bridges at an alarming rate as you well know. I understand how many landowners may have initial skepticism about working with us, but I hope that some good partnerships can be formed between landowners and bridge enthusiasts. Often the landowners and the historians have a common goal, and that of course is to preserve these great bridges. Eventually, every abandoned bridge will collapse due to gravity, floods, and deterioration of the substructure. That is a fate that nobody wants to see. As I am fond of saying, nobody wins when a bridge collapses.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 24, 2016, by Wayne Keller (maandpakeller7777 a t g mail dot com)

I am excited to hear of this find and the significance of this bridge. I hope that it will be maintained and preserved for future generations. Preservation, in my opinion, is the least we can do to honor the design, engineering and craftsmanship that went into building this magnificent structure that has withstood the elements thrust against it for all these years.

Chapman
Posted October 24, 2016, by John Beavers (beaversj [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I have a strong connection to this area, my ancestors settled in Humboldt Valley in 1855 and I grew up on the family farm, about 4 miles up Humboldt Creek although it is no longer owned by the family. The family that owns the property the bridge is on has recently had a couple deaths in the family (father, brother)and they need to be treated with special care...

It was a very exciting moment when I was concentrating on driving through the creek and I saw that bridge! I don't think many people realize just how old and special this bridge truly is.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 23, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Mr. Beavers:

Thank you so much for posting these photographs. Us Bridgehunters certainly respect private property. We usually find bridges based on old maps, news articles, aerial imagery, old postcards, word of mouth, etc. We add what we find, but sometimes one such as this ends up being private.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this bridge is one of the most historically significant bridges in Kansas, and in the entire Midwest.

It is great that the landowner is proud and protective of it. We hope that he will continue to protect it. If he wants assistance with preservation, we are happy to help. If not, we just hope that he does not let it collapse. I have seen bridges get crushed by falling trees, so that could be a hazard here. We are all thankful that he let a Bridgehunter visit the bridge recently. We respect his privacy and we will not enter without his permission.

Robert

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 23, 2016, by John Beavers (beaversj [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I am working for a farmer and Saturday I was moving equipment and I was crossing the creek and I spotted this bridge you posted about. I grew up not far from here and didn't know this existed...

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 18, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Makes sense. Thanks for clarifying. I removed "cast iron" from categories.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 18, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

FYI the assumption that the tubes are wrought iron is because I know for a fact that the tubes King Bridge Co. used on its bowstrings are wrought iron.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 17, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Upon further review...

According to Nathan Holth, the sway bracing tubes are wrought iron, not cast iron.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 16, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

As far as the potential cast iron sway bracing is concerned, it appears to be very similar, or even identical to the sway bracing used on early King Bowstring through trusses.

I have looked at King bridges on this site and on historicbridges.org but so far I have not found an identical match to this bridge.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 16, 2016, by Echo Anderson (Echo Anderson [at] Outlook [dot] com)

It's extremely clear the top of the plaque says 1800! So clear!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 16, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Well, at least he gave you permission. I won't try to visit as I will respect his wish that nobody else enters the property. A little respect for landowners can go a long way.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 16, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Sounds great Robert. Looking through photos again we took that day... posting others now,I had rearranged several out of sequence... found some more, 1878 is confirmed now, did everything we could in our 10 allotted minutes, actually didn't make it back in time but he had gone inside his house for something so don't think there was a problem....

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 16, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Good luck with your trip. I have been in conversation with the owner of the potential CBW near Salina (The Smoky Hill Old Channel Bridge). If you get permission, great. If not, I will ask his permission to visit that bridge when I am in the area.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 16, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Hi there. No in fact I would absolutely love that. It was a fun excursion that day...I am from Lawrence, KS and with me that day was my buddy Kevin Meier who lives in Topeka. Please post a link if possible on this page when your blog is finished. Happy to answer any more questions. On a long journey today in fact to west KS to get evidence of more unphotographed bridges to post on this site.....thanks so much....yee-har, WHIPPLES!!!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

This bridge is a great find. Do you mind me using your pics for an article for my blog, the Bridgehunter's Chronicles? Your name would be accredited, of course....

JS

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Hi Anthony. I was hoping for your input. According to Bridgehunter, this is now the oldest confirmed King Whipple in the U.S.A.

Sorry, but I just can't stop staring at this thing...and to think...I have driven past it more times times than I can count.

Hope your Bridgehunting excursion was successful. I can only imagine what you Hoosiers are hiding!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Crazy! I was out looking at bridges...None I hadn't seen before! And low-and-behold I miss the real excitement here on the mighty BH!

This is definitely a significant find! A Whipple in Kansas is indeed a treat! A very old King with fish-belly floorbeams and some other unusual attributes as well! I've not seen any other King's with the portal bracing and plaque of this style. It's good that the property owner is protective, but he needs to understand just how significant this one is and that it will have to eventually be maintained in some manner to keep it around!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Oh, this one is a gem and a half! I have seen some pretty awesome bridges, but I never expected something like this to surface. Thanks to both of you for tracking this one down.

If the landowner reads this thread, I want to assure him that we will do everything to help him preserve it if he wants our help. If not, we will just thank him for being gracious enough to allow you to visit. We respect his rights as a landowner. He is welcome to contact me anytime if he has questions or concerns.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Ha!! Thought we might have a gem on our hands....glad the property owner was in a cooperative mood that day, albeit a very stern one. Historical bridge in so many ways it appears now - that's awesome.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Hmmm....or 1870? Or 1872? That last number looks rounded in some way....anyhoo....ITS AN OLD BRIDGE

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Just posted more photos from my traveling buddy... I think it's pretty clear the plaque says at the top 1876 or 1878 (!!!)...next lines "BUILT BY KING IRON BRIDGE C. CLEVELAND O."

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yeppers, that was me. Glad he got the letter though.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

Robert the first thing he said to me when I mentioned the bridge was " oh you must be the guy from Texas that wrote me the letter requesting to see it"....he referring to you? If not that only tells me that many people have contacted him about seeing the bridge...again he was very tentative about letting us back there, an extremely private spot he has there in a cul-de-sac under the overpass, probably used to zero visitors

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks for the information. I had written him a letter to ask permission, but have not heard back from from him. I will not try to visit unless he replied.

I am glad that he is proud and protective of it. At least that means that he is not likely to tear it down.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

My traveling buddy has a better photo of the plaque - I will get that and post it - it is very rough condition but I would say in no eminent danger of collapse anytime soon. I could tell the owner was proud of the bridge and very protective of it, he even took our license plate number in case....thing is cool but will have extremely limited if no outsider visits in future would be my guess....

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

WOW! JUST WOW!

This is the ONE and ONLY confirmed example of a Whipple Truss in Kansas! It is a very old one at that. This is a very significant bridge! I really hope that the landowner does not want to tear it down. Did it look to be in danger of collapse? Did the plaque give the builder?

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted October 15, 2016, by Nick Schmiedeler

This one was a bit challenging... showed up with a buddy and found the owner of property, explained we were looking for bridges he was very hesitant and honestly did not want to give us permission at first, he allowed US 10 minutes to walk down to the bridge and back, we had to hustle, it was very forested, very hard to get decent pictures, plaque on the top says 1880 we believe, the owner said he would prefer if no one else came to visit after that, very nice gentleman, we very much appreciated it and let him know that.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted August 19, 2016, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I even got my binoculars out Robert... And I couldn't see it!

...But I believe!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted August 6, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I am planning to find out who owns the land surrounding this bridge so I can ask for permission to do a site visit this fall.

Having spent some time looking at satellite imagery, I have made a couple of observations.

1. This bridge appears to have very short panels. Based on several measurements taken with Google Maps and Google Earth, the panels appear to be only about 13 - 13.5 feet long. This further fuels my suspicion that it is quite old.

2. The bridge may be slightly longer that I initially thought. 110 - 130 feet is my very rough estimate based on satellite imagery.

Geary County sure has a nice supply of old and interesting bridges as well as some great backroads. It was good to get to spend some of my youth here.

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 16, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

About 12 - 14 hours for me, depending on traffic...

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 15, 2016, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I could hop on I70 and be there in say 10 hours or so!

Clarks Creek Bridge
Posted July 15, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks to Clark for the map reference. Abandoned by 1967 makes sense given the construction of I-70. I can see how this one escaped detection despite being so close to the Interstate.

An old bridge at this location also makes sense given the fact that the Clarks Creek and Humboldt Creek valleys provide an easy North - South route through the Flint Hills.

I will try to refrain from speculating about the truss type. Generally, the first bridges in the area were wooden structures, followed by Bowstrings, followed by Pratt trusses and Bedsteads.

Whatever it turns out to be, it is definitely quite old. I am thinking pre-1900 is very possible. I doubt that it is a 1920s or 1930s structure due to lightweight construction, but I welcome any and all speculation. Online searches have not turned up anything so far.

It may be private, but I would like to get permission for a field visit. That will tell us for certain what we have here.