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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
McGilvray Road Bridge #3
The Historic Truss Bridges Of The Van Loon Wildlife Area
New Amsterdam, WI

McGilvray Road Bridge #3

• Bridge Type: Steel Bowstring Arch Truss
• Length: 110 Feet Overall, 78 Foot Longest Span (Estimated)
• Width: 17 Feet
• Date Built: Built 1905, Restored 1991–1997
Bridge #3 is the last of the three bridges that are relatively near to the parking lot. Beyond this bridge, the trail becomes a little rougher, and the distances between bridges is much longer. As a result, many visitors turn around after reaching this structure. The bridge itself has one large bowstring arch span of 78 feet, and two shorter steel girder approach spans (one on each end). This accounts for the long sections of bridge railings extending from each end of the arch structure.

The La Crosse Bridge and Steel Company built several more bowstring arch bridges. The total number is not known. In addition to the 5 remaining bowstring arch bridges on McGilvray Road, three more are known to exist within the state of Wisconsin. Two are in city parks, located in Fond du Lac and Watertown, and the third is located near Amnicon Falls near Superior.

The wooden bridges installed in 1892 did not last long. The boggy ground and raging spring floods caused the wood to deteriorate in about a decade. The two adjacent counties, La Crosse County and Trempealeau County, bickered endlessly about the road, and were unable to find a solution to maintain the bridges. The Township of Holland attempted to keep the road open, but struggled with limited funds and additional problems after several large floods. Finally, in 1905, La Crosse County agreed to fix the road, due in part to the low cost of the Horton bridge design. Five of the unique bridges were constructed over a period of 3 years, plus a short wooden king post bridge.

The photo above is a view of Bridge #3 as one would approach the bridge while heading west on McGilvray Road. A steel girder approach span runs between the bridge abutment and the start of the truss structure on each end of the bridge.

McGilvray Road Bridge #3
The photo above is looking east down the length of the deck of Bridge #3. The clearing to the south of the bridge is clear-cut for a power transmission line that parallels the historic road. The photo below is looking northwest from the southeast corner of the structure. A sizable side channel runs parallel to the north face of this bridge, but the channel running under the bridge is little more than a trickle.

McGilvray Road Bridge #3
McGilvray Road Bridge #3
The photo above is looking west down the length of the deck of Bridge #3. The photo below is looking west down McGilvray Road towards Bridge #4, located 1,700 feet to the west of Bridge #3.

McGilvray Road Bridge #3

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