Snowden Bridge Historical Marker

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Bainville 59212,Northeast Montana

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignHistoric Sites
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General info

The only vertical lift bridge in Montana is located 10 miles south of here on the Missouri River. Built for Great Northern Railway by the Union Bridge and Construction Co. of Kansas City in 1913, it consists of three 275-foot fixed spans and one 296-foot lift span that raised to allow passage of river traffic. All of the spans are Parker riveted through trusses. When completed, it was the longest vertical lift bridge in existence and had the second largest clear opening of all movable bridges in the world.

In 1926, the one-track bridge was modified by the addition of timber approach ramps and a plank deck to accommodate local vehicular traffic. A signal system regulated the direction of flow and tolls were collected from motorized and horse-drawn vehicles.

No record exists of the number of times the lift span was operated, but it was rare due to declining navigation on the Missouri. The last time there was a need for it, when Fort Peck Dam was being built in the 1930s and barges loaded with construction materials needed the bridge raised to pass upstream, the mechanism no longer worked. The original hoist mechanism is still in place, but the operating machinery was retired in 1943.

Snowden Bridge was closed to auto traffic in 1985 when a new bridge was built three miles downstream.

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