The Bowstring Arch Truss style of bridge was invented by Charles Horton, who received a patent on this design in 1897. Horton licensed his design in 1900 to the La Crosse Bridge And Steel Company, who manufactured six such bridges for McGilvray Road between 1905 and 1908.
Alexander McGilvray immigrated to Wisconsin from Scotland. He established a ferry service across the Black River near the village of New Amsterdam in March of 1854. The ferry provided access to the northwestern part of Wisconsin for settlers and commerce centered on the riverboat landing and industry around La Crosse. The east approach to the ferry was reached by slogging through two miles of rattlesnake infested swamps and side channels along the Black River that was to become known as McGilvray Bottoms. The ferry used a succession of boats, starting with a converted wagon, and later using purpose-built flat-bottomed boats. The ferry operated by running along a rope, which was later replaced by a cable made out of seven-eights inch diameter steel rods connected end to end. The ferry business boomed after McGilvray established an Inn and settlers began to pour into the area.
The photo above is a view of Bridge #1 as one would approach the bridge while heading west on McGilvray Road.