Post details: Old Military Bridge

05/30/06

Permalink 03:43:11 pm, Categories: Urban Exploration, General, 442 words   English (US)

Old Military Bridge

That’s right, another boring post about a bridge!

Bridge 1

I had heard rumblings about an “old military bridge” about town here in Kansas, but no one seemed to know for sure just where it was, or anything else about it, but people kept suggesting that I look for it, thinking it might be of interest to me; it was.

Recently an article surfaced in the paper, which briefly discussed the history of the bridge, local legends, and the truth behind its age and original purpose. The article offered no directions to the bridge (not surprisingly), but did offer a tantalizing black and white photograph of an old overgrown iron bridge. After some more asking around I found an older woman who remembered herding cattle across the bridge as a girl, and as luck would have it she was able to give precise directions to the bridge, which turned out to be completely accurate.

Bridge 1

Of course, the bridge as it stands today is located in the middle of a forest, but a dead-end road leads one as close as can be expected. I was really surprised by how big it was when I finally got there. The bridge sits high in the treetops over the Marmaton River. It’s held aloft by one large, off-center stone pillar (similar to the ones at Stockton Lake), standing about 30-40 feet. It’s no larger than most modern bridges, but I expected it to be smaller, due to its age.

The so-called “Old Military Bridge” is thought by many to have been constructed by the army during the Civil War, but in actuality it was built soon afterward in the 1870’s, so that farmers could move their herds more easily across the river.

The second thing I noticed, aside from its size, was how its construction and design differed from modern-day bridges. Rather than large, thick girders, the bridge was made up of thin strips of iron, all bolted together. If I were to guess I’d say it was probably just easier to cast thin sheets of metal back then. Besides, it’s not like it ever had to support the weight of an 18-wheeler.

Bridge 3

The Old Military Bridge was still in use until about 30 years ago, when a fire destroyed the wooden portions of the bridge. Today only a few moss-covered planks remain. There’s talk of replacing the wood and turning it into a pedestrian foot bridge. The problem is there’s no trail for it to link up to at the moment. Here’s hoping they can either restore it to a point that everyone can enjoy it, or just leave it alone.

Comments:

Comment from: brouser [Visitor]
nice find!
Permalink 05/30/06 @ 16:15
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]
I dont know who you asked about directions to the bridge but anyone that has lived here very long could tell you how to find it. I Played on this bridge when I was just a kid and my father who is 87 now use to take me fishing under it and we would catch some pretty good sized catfish there...at least till some of the local kids came to go swimming. As a teen I can remeber driving my dads old truck across it and around midnight on some quiet night to park on it with that special someone.. until someone came by and wanted across. I haven't been to the ole bridge in a long time now but seeing these pictures brought back a lot of memories and I intend on going out with my kid to let her see whats left of what once was a really great bridge.
Permalink 06/24/06 @ 14:35
Comment from: sertile [Member]
Thanks Steve. The first people I asked were rangers at the old fort, who had heard of the bridge but had never been there, and had no idea where it was. They weren't really locals, though, so they wouldn't have grown up with the bridge the way you did.
Permalink 08/14/06 @ 16:40
Comment from: Ruth [Visitor]
When I found this, I was hoping you had included directions to the bridge. Do you think you could post the directions so others who have an appreciation for these beautiful old bridges can locate it? This is one of the old bridges I've been trying to locate recently. Thanks.
Permalink 11/26/06 @ 23:45
Comment from: travis [Visitor]
I know right where that is.......if it weren't for the trees and brush being so grown up around it I would be able to see it from my master bedroom...follow 240th north till you hit the dead end........you'll run right into it
Permalink 12/20/06 @ 13:09
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Permalink 02/25/07 @ 06:46

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