1 vote

Somerlayton Bridge


Somerlayton Bridge

The News-Palladium: May 1 1969


BH Photo #450796



Lost truss bridge over St. Joseph River on MI 139
Fair Plain, Berrien County, Michigan
Replaced by a new bridge in 1982
Built in 1897 as a railroad bridge; converted in 1929 to roadway bridge ; replaced in 1982
- Benton Harbor & Southeastern Railway (BH&SE)
- Milwaukee, Benton Harbor & Columbus Railway (MBH&C)
- Pere Marquette Railway (PM)
- St. Joseph Valley Railway (1889-1897) (StJVRy)
6-panel, pinned Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 175.0 ft.
Total length: 350.0 ft.
Deck width: 30.0 ft.
Also called
MI 139 - St. Joseph River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.05761, -86.43834   (decimal degrees)
42°03'27" N, 86°26'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/546473/4656325 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 85691 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 1, 2019: New photo from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • June 26, 2019: Updated by Luke: Added railroad stuff
  • June 25, 2019: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added truss type
  • June 25, 2019: Added by Melissa Brand-Welch



Somerlayton Bridge
Posted June 26, 2019, by Melissa Brand-Welch (melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com)

Thank you to Tony and Luke for your assistance! Luke, I Definitely knew I needed help with the railroad information.

Somerlayton Bridge
Posted June 25, 2019, by Melissa Brand-Welch (melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com)

Thank you Nathan. I appreciate your kind words. I quite enjoy the history behind the Lost bridges. I can't field visit as often as I'd like so this is a way for me to contribute.

Somerlayton Bridge
Posted June 25, 2019, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I greatly appreciate the effort to dig up all these old news articles and photos of bridges. The work is revealing photos for which no information can be found elsewhere. I made a similar attempt to find bridge articles in newspapers a couple years ago but gave up when I saw how much time it was going to take. So I recognize and appreciate the work and time commitment made.

As for this bridge, I see the 1927 improvements included an approach span with MSHD standard balustrade railings. A huge number of bridges were built in Michigan during the relatively short period of 1927-1932 when this style of railing was used.

Somerlayton Bridge
Posted June 25, 2019, by Melissa Brand-Welch (melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com)

I have not found an Exact construction date yet but I'm still looking.

Somerlayton Bridge
Posted June 25, 2019, by Mike Kerkau (mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com)

Heh, I'm not sure the articles agree what year exactly this was built. One said 1899, the two-part detailed history said 1897, and Google pointed me to a third that called it a "77-year old" bridge...and the article's from 1977, so that means 1900. Doubt it's that one, but still - is it 1899 or 1897?


That is funny though that the one article that came up in Google was from a different date entirely than any of the ones posted here. Same paper though of course.