No votes cast

Grand River Bridge


Grand River Bridge

Photo from old postcard

BH Photo #466649


Lost Through truss bridge over Grand River on Division Street
Lowell, Kent County, Michigan
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1881 by King Iron Bridge Co.; Middle + south spans likely washed out in Grand Jam flood of June-July 1883, with replacement spans built 1895 by Wrought Iron Bridge Co.; Whole bridge replaced 1982
- King Iron Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio (original builder) [also known as King Bridge Co.]
- Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, Ohio (post-1895 middle + south spans)
Pratt through truss
Total length: 291.0 ft.
Deck width: 17.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.92520, -85.34288   (decimal degrees)
42°55'31" N, 85°20'34" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/635234/4753840 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 88392 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 17, 2022: Updated by Nathan Holth: Corrected location to that which is shown on the postcard caption.
  • March 1, 2020: Updated by Mike Kerkau: Details
  • February 28, 2020: New photo from Geoff Hubbs



Grand River Bridge
Posted February 18, 2022, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

That certainly is possible, Charles Hyde was a well respected historian and it does look like it was a bridge on the map, although thats quite unusual to have so many bridges given the size of the Grand River, and even more unusual that the road goes across the river perfectly straight at a skew to the river which was almost unheard of even up to 1900! Compare it to the Segwun crossing, where the road bends to cross at a 90.

All I know for sure is that postcard (assuming the caption is correct) would be at the Segwun location, and my confidence is further increased by that outstanding map you found which DOES prove my theory that Segwun is a long-lost community... and any train depots would be located in a city vs in a rural area so the train depot location seems accurate.

Grand River Bridge
Posted February 18, 2022, by Paul Plassman

I agree the postcard shows a former bridge on Segwun Avenue, based on its mention of the train station. However, it seems that the information derived from Hyde's inventory as Mike Kerkau mentioned in the comments below describes a bridge on Jackson/Division Street instead (pages 227-228):


Could there have been two major bridges over the Grand River at Lowell back in the 19th century, or is it possible that Hyde was in error on the location? This 1876 Historic Map Works image seems to show two crossings, one at Jackson/Division and one at Segwun:


Grand River Bridge
Posted February 17, 2022, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Although there was much discussion over this bridge nobody apparently checked the location... unless the postcard is in error? A simple Google search clearly indicated that the Grand Trunk Railroad station referenced on the post card was at the location I used, further historically we would expect that if money was spent to cross a large river like this in the 19th century, it would make sense to do so at the train station. Also I can't find much information on it, but Seqwun may be a "ghost town" so it may have once been known as the Segwun Bridge.

More information is on this page so I will delete the other and adjust the location on this page.

Grand River Bridge
Posted February 17, 2022, by Paul Plassman

I'm a bit confused....the postcard on this page is the same one as used for BH 96734 on Segwun Avenue, but the information on this page is clearly for the Division Street crossing. Do we have a postcard from one bridge and info for another on the same page? According to old maps it looks like Lowell had two Grand River crossings all the way back to 1876 at least.

Grand River Bridge
Posted March 1, 2020, by Mike Kerkau (mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com)

The Grand Jam would certainly explain a lot.

As it pertains to other bridges on the river:

-It's probably how Grand Rapids ended up with the Blue Bridge, as that bridge's predecessor (on the former GR&I Railroad) was destroyed.

-I'm guessing Bridge Street (predecessor to the arch bridge posted here) survived for the time being, as the arch wasn't built until 1903-04.

-Leonard Street (built only 4 years prior!) survived, though I wonder if that was instead lost to the Great Lakes Storm of 1913.

-The article doesn't say that Pearl Street was destroyed, though the flood must have been its swan-song in any case, as BH 74860 was built there in 1886.

-The two other bridges specifically mentioned as destroyed are the Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee and Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad bridges. DGH&M - later a part of Grand Trunk Western, itself now a part of Canadian National - would be the railroad line (still in operation today) between Ann and Leonard Streets (not posted here), as to C&M...I have no idea. C&M's history on Wiki gives basically no details as to its Michigan holdings.

-One other interesting note: Sixth Street was also built in 1886, but that location isn't even mentioned; most likely, BH 20096 is the one and only bridge that has ever been there.

(Side note: I checked other Kent bridges, and the Norfolk Southern Grand River Swing Bridge is also one with spans from more than one builder, years apart. AGH! In any case, that'd be my bet for where the former C&M line ended up, if in fact the line is still operating today. If the line no longer exists today, then your guess is as good as mine.)

Grand River Bridge
Posted February 29, 2020, by Don Morrison

Google's map makes it look as if Division street joins into Jackson street, and Bing maps calls it Jackson street after the intersection north of the current bridge.

Catastrophic floods on a logging river like the Grand Jam of 1883 probably took out some of the 1881 spans.


Grand River Bridge
Posted February 29, 2020, by Luke

It's not as unusual as you think, especially with catastrophic floods:

e.g. https://bridgehunter.com/ia/louisa/bh56873/

Grand River Bridge
Posted February 29, 2020, by Mike Kerkau (mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com)

Hyde's 1976 inventory lists this as Jackson Street rather than Division Street, but as there is no other Jackson or Division crossing in or around Lowell, I can only assume he used the town's street name despite this being (technically) just to the south. In any case, it offers the following with regards to this bridge:

"The Jackson Street Bridge consists of three steel and wrought iron Pratt trusses, resting on concrete piers and abutments, and is 17 feet wide and 291 feet long. The north span was erected in 1881 by the King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio, while the middle and south spans were built in 1895 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio."

Having spans built by two different bridge companies, let alone 14 years apart, strikes me as VERY unusual - to the point where I'm not sure I'd believe it. Would it be plausible that that did happen here?

In any case, his source on this one is MSIAS, which refers to a Michigan Structure Inventory and Appraisal Study conducted by Michigan Department of State Highways and Transportation (presumably MDOT today) over 1972-74.