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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
McGilvray Road Bridge #7
The Historic Truss Bridges Of The Van Loon Wildlife Area
New Amsterdam, WI

McGilvray Road Bridge #7

• Bridge Type: Steel Through Truss
• Length: 254 Feet Overall, 254 Foot Longest Span
• Width: 20 Feet (Estimated)
• Date Built: Built 1892, Closed 1948, Removed 1954
Scottish immigrant Alexander McGilvray operated a river ferry and Inn near the village of New Amsterdam starting in the mid-1850s. Alexander McGilvray passed away in 1878, and his sons took over the ferry service. Gilbert McGilvray championed the idea of a permanent bridge. Gilbert met with local officials, secured permission to build the bridge, and even negotiated the construction contract with the Clinton Bridge Company. Later, Gilbert McGilvray hauled the materials to the site, boarded the construction workers, and provided all the materials except for the steel. The project was completed during the winter of 1892, at which time, the ferry service was retired.

The bridge featured a 254-foot long through truss span over the Black River. A through truss has a metal lattice-work of beams and cables on each side of the traffic deck, and the truss rises high enough to have support beams crossing the deck above the traffic level. The traffic ends up traveling through the truss structure. The bridge was built in an era of buggy and wagon traffic, so it was a comparatively light structure. It was strong enough to support automobiles and light delivery trucks. Travelers reported, however, that the trip across the bridge was scary due to the rumbling noises and the bouncy ride.

The bridge was incorporated into the state highway system as part of state highway WI-93. The bridge was obsolete prior to WWII, but lack of funds prevented it from being upgraded or replaced. The state declared the bridge to be unsafe in 1948, and it was closed to traffic. A new highway WI-93 was being built about 2 miles south of this location, which opened in 1953. Local residents petitioned the state to leave the bridge intact. The state was fearful that a future accident or collapse would result in a lawsuit being filed against the state, resulting in the state removing the bridge in 1954.

The main channel bridge, often referred to as Bridge #7, is just a memory today. One can hike to the very end of McGilvray Road and sit on a park bench located at the east end of where the structure once stood. While sitting on that bench, it is hard not to consider the generations of travelers that once crossed the river at this location, the millions of logs that once flowed down the Black River, or the agricultural products from hundreds of farms that once moved to market down McGilvray Road.

The photo above is the view looking across the main channel of the Black River where Bridge #7 was formerly located. The river channel is about 190 feet wide at this location.

McGilvray Road Bridge #7
The photo above is the view as one approaches the riverbank from the east. The photo below is the view from the bench shown above. A tree limb is hanging over the path once occupied by Bridge #7, obstructing much of the view across the river channel.

McGilvray Road Bridge #7
McGilvray Road Bridge #7
The photo above is looking down towards the water on the east riverbank. The wood piling sticking out just above the water level is the only evidence remaining from Bridge #7. The photo below is looking east down McGilvray Road from the riverbank. A large tree has fallen across the trail. It looks like someone has attempted to cut a section from the tree to reopen the trail, but so far, the tree appears to be resisting that effort.

McGilvray Road Bridge #7

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