Last week we were able to rededicate North Dakota’s oldest recorded bridge after extensive renovations to its structure. It was a grand day complete with sunshine, warmth and a great turnout of community members. There was a brief program with presentations and words shared by Ben Kubishta of the ND DOT, Brenda Red Wing of the Federal Transportation Administration, Bob Christensen of the ND DOT, Arne Osland of District 5 County Commission, and Dan Christianson of the Traill County Historical Society.
The DOT provided a series of commemorative framed images to the Traill County Commission, May-Port CG 2nd Grade Students, Traill County Historical Society and the family of Ernest Fyre.
Although unable to attend the ceremony, our very own Representative Lee Kaldor was pleased to hear that the push to utilize funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was able to help provide this lasting testament to the engineering ingenuity of the past century. Senator Phil Murphy was there with his group of senior high students and aptly tied the whole thing together by reminding them that they now will become the stewards for tomorrow.
It was really interesting to note that through some background research, Arne discovered that the bridge originally cost around $10,000 all total, in 1885, with a refurbished total of $530,000 in 2010! Quite a comparison. While still not rated for today’s farm or truck equipment, Viking Bridge will none-the-less continue to be a vital part of Traill County’s transportation system, thanks to the involvement of so many local, regional, state and federal resources.
All in all… a wonderful day and wonderful way to commemorate a great old bridge and the many people who cared enough to see it through!
(Many thanks to Marilu Person, Hillsboro Historical Society, for the slideshow photo images)
N.D.’s oldest vehicle bridge rededicated | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota
By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald
PORTLAND, N.D. — When the historic Viking Bridge closed in 2006, it caused some inconvenience for Ernest Fyre, who along with his brother, Kenneth, farms both sides of the Goose River in Viking Township.
And when it was removed for a few months in 2010 to be a restored, he didn’t mind a bit, even though the bridge was sitting on his land, where the $530,000 restoration project took place.
The Viking Bridge — the oldest documented vehicle bridge in North Dakota — was rededicated Wednesday. The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“I think it’s great to have a bridge like this,” he said. “My grandparents homesteaded right over there, on that side. It’s part of the family.”
His son, Robert, and his wife, Jessica, had their engagement photographs taken on the bridge.
“We used to skip rocks off the bridge,” said daughter Mia Kozojed. “We had a lot of fun here.”
The Viking Bridge has spanned the Goose River since it was built in 1885. But it hasn’t always been on this narrow gravel road.
Originally, it bridged the Goose between the frontier towns of Mayville and Portland. It was moved to its present location in 1915.
It is one of seven bridges in Traill County that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Most of the others are gone now.
The Viking, a metal truss bridge made of steel with cast and wrought iron components, is 110 feet long, with a vehicle deck 17 feet wide.
“The Viking Bridge serves as a time capsule from an era of bridges of the past,” the North Dakota Department of Transportation printed on interpretive panels that mark its historic significance. “The Viking Bridge is a piece of early technology frozen in time, illustrating a state of technology unique to the Upper Midwest in the mid-1880s.”
While the bridge restoration was completed in 2010, the project’s second phase — historic documentation and development of the interpretive panels — was accomplished in 2011.
Wednesday’s dedication ceremony attracted a few dozen area residents and a busload of students from Mayville-Portland School. Besides witnessing the rededication, they received a lesson from state Sen. Philip Murphy, D-Portland, who also is a May-Port history and government teacher.
“Seniors, take care of yourselves,” he said, “so you can be here for the 200th anniversary of this bridge.”
Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.