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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
McGilvray Road Bridge #5
The Historic Truss Bridges Of The Van Loon Wildlife Area
New Amsterdam, WI

McGilvray Road Bridge #5

• Bridge Type: Steel Pony Through Truss
• Length: 60 Feet Overall, 60 Foot Longest Span
• Width: 17 Feet
• Date Built: Built 1921, Restored 1996–1997
Bridge #5 was a wooden king post bridge that spanned 65 feet. It deteriorated to the point that it was no longer salvageable and was removed by the DNR in 1986. At the time of the restoration project in the mid-1990s, a pony style through truss bridge became available in Pierce County. That bridge was dismantled, trucked to New Amsterdam, refurbished, and installed in place of Bridge #5. Given that most of the steel truss bridges from the early and mid-1900s have disappeared, this bridge is historically significant in its own right.

A pony style truss bridge is built from two truss beams. The truss beams consist of two parallel horizontal beams with cross-beams running in a zigzag fashion. The beam stays rigid by having alternate cross-beams in compression and tension modes (being squeezed towards the middle or being pulled on at the ends). In a pony style truss, the truss rises up above the bridge deck, but does not rise high enough to be above the traffic level.

When local residents learned that the bridges on McGilvray Road were to be demolished, they began to organize and raise funds. They formed the ‘The Friends of McGilvray Road, Inc’ to coordinate the community efforts. The group signed up sponsors and sold T-shirts and caps to raise funds. Later, a series of limited edition fine art prints generated over $350,000 for the bridge restoration. The DNR and the state Historical Society endorsed the project, leading to the State of Wisconsin approving the project and allowing the bridges to be saved.

The photo above is a view of Bridge #5 as one would approach the bridge while heading west on McGilvray Road. The photo below is a profile view of the downriver face of Bridge #5 as seen from near the water level southwest of the structure. Unlike the bowstring arch bridges, this bridge sits directly on the wooden abutments.

McGilvray Road Bridge #5
McGilvray Road Bridge #5
The photo above is looking west from the southeast corner of Bridge #5. The photo below is looking east down the length of the bridge deck. Note the beaver lodge on the far left side of the photo on the far side of the river channel.

McGilvray Road Bridge #5
McGilvray Road Bridge #5
The photo above is looking north from the deck of Bridge #5. The photo below is looking south from the deck of Bridge #5. The power line that parallels McGilvray Road is located 400 feet south of the bridge due to the road having shifted 325 feet to the north between Bridge #3 and Bridge #4. While the river channel looks to be fairly large at this location, the water is actually a lake that has formed using an old river channel.

McGilvray Road Bridge #5
McGilvray Road Bridge #5
The photo above is looking east along the downriver face of Bridge #5. The photo below is a gusset plate near the center of the bridge truss. While most of the bridge fasteners are rivets, we find that half of the fasteners at this joint are bolts. This appears to be where the bridge was split apart prior to being moved to this location. The bridge would have been disassembled by drilling out key sets of rivets, and those rivets were replaced by bolts when the bridge was put back together.

McGilvray Road Bridge #5
McGilvray Road Bridge #5
The photo above is the bridge builder's plate. The photo below is looking west down McGilvray Road towards Bridge #6, located 1,700 feet west of Bridge #5. The trail begins to narrow and the roadway is much more uneven and rough west of Bridge #5.

McGilvray Road Bridge #5

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