Upper Midwest

A number of interesting and historically important King bridges were located in Michigan and Minnesota. Wisconsin is the site of the last remaining non-bridge structure built by the company, the Yerkes Observatory.

A Bowstring Swing bridge in Manistee, Manistee County

This old photograph was found in a King family album. It is presumably a King bridge, but we have no further information.

2 The Portage Lake Railroad Bridge, Houghton, 1895

This impressive multi span railroad bridge with a swing span in the center was one of the major engineering and construction achievements of the King Bridge Company in Michigan, It was located in the State’s Upper Peninsula and was an important feature of the copper mining industry in the area. It was replaced in 1957.

Nathan Holth’s website is the main source for remaining King bridges in Michigan.


These include:

1. The Second Street Bridge# – 1886 –Allegan, Allagan Co.

In the 1970s the City fathers of Allegan decided they wanted to restore this150 foot King built Pratt through truss in their downtown, instead of replacing it. They persuaded Federal Highway authorities to provide funding for a complete restoration instead of a more expensive new structure. In 1983, the bridge was reopened for one-way traffic in a three day civic celebration. It is cited in “Great American Bridges and Dams” by Donald C. Jackson, John Wiley & Sons 1988. http://www.historicbridges.org/truss/2nd/index.htm

2. The Central Avenue Bridge and 3. The Casino Bridge -1893 – Belle Island Park, Detroit

The Belle Isle Park was designed in the 1880s by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who created Central Park in New York and many of great parks in other cities. It contains two bridges built by the King Bridge Company in 1893 that are still in use. One, over the Loup Canal near the Casino, is for pedestrians, and the other called the Central Avenue Bridge and still carries vehicular traffic. The Casino bridge appeared in the King Bridge Company catalogues of the 1890s. Historic bridge lover Nathan Holth provided pictures showing their elegant decorative railings and King Bridge Company plates. Fredrick Law Olmstead liked to have these decorative bridges as part of his park designs.



4. The New Richmond RR Overpass -1907- Allegan County .

This beam girder still has a King Bridge Company plate.


5. The Clearwater Pony Truss – Kalkaska County

This pony truss is reported to have been built by the King Bridge Company and a local group is trying to save it. ( see http://www.torchlake.com/cwc/ )


The earliest King Bridge Company catalogues contained this picture of a long truss bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. We know nothing of the history of this particular structure, but it can be assumed that it exists no longer. However, the company was commissioned to build another Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis later on in 1887. This was the Broadway Bridge, now the Merriam Street Bridge

1. The Broadway Bridge, Minneapolis- 1887

The history of the original bridge built by the King Bridge Company is documented extensively in HAER as noted below. It was an important bridge in the development of the city and noted for its decorative features. In 1985, when the four span bridge was replaced, one of the spans of this decorative Pratt truss was floated by pontoons to a new site at Merriam Street to connect across the branch of the mighty Mississippi to Nicolet Island.


1 a. The Merriam Street Bridge (Old Broadway Bridge)– 1887

This is the remaining span of the old Broadway Bridge now on Merriam Street connecting to Nicolet Island. Apparently, it is still in fine working order and has survived the rigorous inspections following the collapse of the Interstate Highway bridge in 2007.



The Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge -1893- relocated to Hastings, Dakota Co – This unique 119 foot through truss was built by the King Bridge Company through its agent, M.A. Adams, who later went on to set up his own bridge company in Minneapolis. It was one of the earliest iron bridges in the state and was on the National Register of Historic Places until it was relocated to a private park.



There is not much documentation of King Bridge Company activity in this state, with the exception of the park bridge pictured below that was part of the well-known Milwaukee necklace of parks ringing the city. It may have been recently replaced.

The Yerkes Observatory dome – 1886 -Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

This is the only non-bridge structure built by the King Bridge Company that remains in tact. It houses the largest refracting telescope still in operation. The revolving dome was built by the company under contract to Warner & Swazey, the Cleveland


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