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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Former MT-13 Missouri River Highway Crossing
Wolf Point, MT

Old Lewis & Clark Bridge

• Structure ID: ???
• Location: River Mile ???
• River Elevation: 1,966 Feet
• Highway: Former MT-13
• Daily Traffic Count: Bridge Is Closed To All Traffic
• Bridge Type: Pennsylvania Through Truss, 3 Spans
• Length: 1,074 Feet, 400 Foot Longest Span
• Width: 2 Lanes
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: ???
• Date Built: Dedicated July 9, 1930
The City of Wolf Point website relates the story of James Cusker and Rolla Cusker, who broke though the ice in February, 1926, while returning home from a basketball game. With the ferry service suspended for the winter, many folks drove across the frozen ice of the Missouri River. The problem is that the river is fast flowing and has unpredictable currents. The ice was strong enough for the two men to drive across earlier in the evening, but on their way home, they hit an open spot despite retracing their earlier tracks. Their bodies were not found for several days.

The Cusker family tragedy spurred the local officials into asking that a highway and bridge be considered as part of the new US highway system that was being formed. Several counties and local cities supported this plan, and the state agreed in October of 1926. The bridge was started shortly afterward, funded half by the State of Montana, and half by matching funds from the federal government. The bridge was completed and a huge dedication ceremony was held on July 9, 1930.

The bridge was situated high above the river since the US Army Corps of Engineers considered the Missouri River to be navigable at that time. Two large concrete piers were built on each side of the river channel, and a 400 foot main through truss span was erected across the river. The main span is flaked by a slightly shorter though truss span on each side. Short segments of steel girders connect the outer truss spans to the bridge abutments, which are built built on fill some 20 feet above ground level. When completed, this was a very imposing structure that sat up tall, occupying is place across the river with pride. The bridge lived up to its billing as the most massive bridge in the state of Montana.

All things do come to an end. Wider and heavier traffic and increased maintenance costs lead to the Lewis & Clark Bridge becoming obsolete. The state built a new river bridge just west of the old bridge in 1997 and 1998. The old bridge now has a second life as a state historical site. The bridge was deeded to the Montana Historical Society, who plans to maintain the bridge as a monument. They also operate a small park and interpretive display at the south end of the bridge. The bridge was also added to the National Register of Historic Places. While the bridge remains closed as of 2007, the historical society is working to develop a plan to make the bridge safe for pedestrian users. That would be a site to see.

Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge
Old Lewis & Clark Bridge

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