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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
McGilvray Road Bridge #2
The Historic Truss Bridges Of The Van Loon Wildlife Area
New Amsterdam, WI

McGilvray Road Bridge #2

• Bridge Type: Steel Bowstring Arch Truss
• Length: 141 Feet Overall, 71 Foot Longest Span
• Width: 17 Feet
• Date Built: Built 1908, Restored 1991–1997
Bridge #2 has two truss spans, as does Bridge #1 and Bridge #4. The bridges feature wooden decks. Several of the bridges previously had concrete decks, but local Boy Scout troops provided the labor to replace the concrete with wood in order to reduce the static weight on the structures. It is hoped that the lighter deck will help the bridges to last longer.

The Bowstring Arch Truss Bridge is unique in that the backbone and main load bearing structural member is a curved piece of steel that forms the top of the truss, giving it a characteristic arch appearance. The arch is given additional strength by a horizontal steel beam that ties the two ends of the arch together, resulting in a structure much like a bow and arrow. The weight of the bridge pulls down on the arch, which would tend to push the ends of the arch apart. The horizontal tie beam holds the ends of the arch from spreading. This allows the arch to support a great deal of weight.

The ferry crossing was replaced with a permanent steel bridge in 1892. At the same time, the road was improved by raising its grade above the level of the swamp. There were 8 gaps that were too long to be filled or too deep for culverts, so wooden bridges were installed. This provided a smooth and level road that was easily passable by buggy and wagon traffic.

The photo above is a view of Bridge #2 as one would approach the bridge while heading west on McGilvray Road. The photo below is a view of the downriver side of Bridge #2 as seen from the southeast corner of the structure.


McGilvray Road Bridge #2
McGilvray Road Bridge #2
The photo above is looking west down the length of the bridge deck from the southeast corner of Bridge #2. The photo below is looking east down the bridge deck from the west end of the bridge.

McGilvray Road Bridge #2
McGilvray Road Bridge #2
The photo above is a detail view where the two bridge spans meet. The arch shape of the bridge truss would tend to push the ends of the bridge outward, but a tie rod strung between each end of each truss prevents any outward movement of the steel truss backbone. The photo below is a detail view of a clip that attaches a suspension rod to the bridge backbone.

McGilvray Road Bridge #2
McGilvray Road Bridge #2
The photo above is looking south from Bridge #2. The photo below is looking north from Bridge #2. While this body of water was once a large side channel running through the river bottom area, it is plugged with sentiment and the water is stagnant. The power pole supports a power line that parallels McGilvray Road through the river bottom area.

McGilvray Road Bridge #2
McGilvray Road Bridge #2
The photo above is the pilings and abutment wing at the southeast corner of the structure. These wood components were rebuilt with new materials during the 1990-era restoration. The photo below is the view looking west down McGilvray Road towards Bridge #3, located 800 feet west of Bridge #2.

McGilvray Road Bridge #2

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