1894 Williams Street Bridge
Romantic Victorian Bridge Removed in 2009


A Springtime 1980s View of the Williams Street Bridge


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD

Built by the King Bridge Co., Cleveland, Ohio

The following is excerpted from a comprehensive report written by Jon Axline for the Williams Street Bridge nomination to the National Register of Historic Places:

"The Williams Street Bridge is an excellent example of a single-span pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge. The bridge was built in 1894-1895 shortly after the opening of the nearby Broadwater Hotel and Natatorium resort and about the time the U.S. Army began construction of Fort Harrison about one mile north of the bridge. The bridge is located within a residential subdivision that was established in 1889 in conjunction with the resort.

"The Williams Street Bridge provided access to a portion of the Broadwater property, the residential subdivision, and the fort. It also facilitated access from the Helena Street Railway trolley to the Kessler Brewery and the Central Park. It was also constructed when Lewis and Clark County was improving its infrastructure system during the depths of the Panic of 1893.

"The bridge is also significant as the oldest pin-connected Pratt pony truss bridge remaining in Montana."

After it is dismantled in the summer of 2009, the bridge will be stored on Lewis & Clark County property in the Helena Valley.

 

Former Location of the Williams Street Bridge



Read historian Jon Axline's excellent 2005 Historic American Engineering Record paper about the Williams Street Bridge and the surrounding area...


MSWORD FILE COURTESY OF JON AXLINE

 



The Site Before the Bridge Was Built, About 1892

A small bridge of some sort spanning Ten Mile Creek can be seen.

 

Young ladies at the Bridge, circa 1917

Looking east, we can see in the distance the Kessler Brewing Company on the left, and Kessler (Kenwood) School on the right.



Young Ladies at the Bridge, Early 1940s


FROM THE COLLECTION OF MAXINE GILMOUR, COURTESY OF RICHARD SMITH

An early 1940s Kodachrome showing two unidentified young ladies at the southwest corner of the Williams Street bridge.

 


The Williams Street Bridge, late 1960s


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD

If you look closely, you can see a boy hanging by his hands from the eyebars beneath the bridge. Your editor, who grew up near this bridge, recalls engaging in this sport of crossing the creek hand-over-hand via the eyebars -- sometimes with wet results.

Partially visible are two of the four decorative newel post uprights that once adorned the bridge. They were removed by vandals or scavengers decades ago. Has anyone seen them? let me know.

 



Ten Mile Creek and the Williams St. Bridge, 1970


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD




Under the Williams St. Bridge, 1980s


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD




Ten Mile Creek in flood at the Williams St. Bridge, 1981. Person unidentified


COURTESY OF SCOTT NELSON - THE BRIDGEWORKS CONSERVANCY

 

 

The Williams Street Bridge in Art
"Tenmile Romance - The Williams Street Bridge" • by Kathryn Fehlig


COURTESY OF KATHRYN FEHLIG

The Williams Street Bridge readily lends itself to artistic interpretation. This pastel by noted regional artist and graphic designer Kathryn Fehlig captures a glowing impression of the romantic Victorian bridge's final days. This work is available at the Upper Missouri Artists Gallery, 7 North Main St., Helena, MT ~ 406-457-8240



2004 Views of the Williams Street Bridge
Photos by Kristi Hager • Library of Congress

East Side from Ten Mile Creek


 

Northern Approach

 

 

East Walkway

 

 

West Side

 


 

Decorative Motif

 

 

Stonework, South End



1946 Repairs


 

 

The Last Day ~ August 23 2009
Two Views of the Bridge's Last Day of Service
Courtesy of Kathryn Fehlig





Williams Street Bridge Removal in Progress ~ August 30, 2009
Courtesy of Kathryn Fehlig

 

 

Williams Street Bridge Removal in Progress ~ September 3, 2009
Courtesy of Scott Nelson

The granite blocks upon which the bridge rested were given to landowners on either side of the bridge: the southern blocks to Tim Kuney, the northern blocks to William Whyte, Jr.

 

 

 

Williams Street Bridge Removal in Progress ~ September 6, 2009
Courtesy of Kathryn Fehlig



Williams Street Bridge on the Move
Friday, September 11, 2009


PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD

Tamietti House Movers and Construction of Whitehall moved the bridge to Fort Harrison. The 38-foot-wide, 100-foot-long and 13-foot-six-inch-tall bridge was moved south on Williams Street to Euclid Avenue; east on Euclid to Joslyn Street; north on Joslyn Street to Country Club Road West; Country Club Road to Williams Street; north on Williams Street to Barrett Road; and west on Barrett Road to Fort Harrison.

 

The New Bridge, September 2011


PHOTO BY KENNON BAIRD

 


Comparison Photos, 1980s and 2011
A section of the original railing was preserved
in situ, and incorporated into the new bridge