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Forest Route 157/Tamarack River Bridge
Forest Route 157 over Tamarack River, Stambaugh Township - Iron County
Other Names San Souci Bridge
Property Type bridge
Historic Use TRANSPORTATION/road-related (vehicular)
Current Use TRANSPORTATION/road-related (vehicular)
Style Other
Architect/Builder Barnum and Counihan
State Highway Department
Narrative Description Main span number: 1 Main span length: 50 Structure length: 53 Roadway width: 17 Structure width: 19 Located near the Gogebic County line, this medium-span concrete bridge carries Forest Route 157 (old US-2) over the Tamarack River on the Ottawa National Forest. The bridge was constructed in 1915-1916 from a MSHD standard design. It is comprised of a pair of 50 foot, concrete girders that rest on concrete full-height abutments with angled wingwalls. The girders support a 18 foot wide concrete deck in the through position. Using typically modest MSHD detailing, the bridge features recessed rectangular panels on the outside walls of the girders, massive copings on the girders' tops, and bronze "Trunk Line Bridge" plates (since removed) mounted on the girders' inside walls. The San Souci Bridge, as it was historically known, has suffered a minor amount of spalling of its copings, but it is unaltered and retains a relatively high degree of structural integrity.
Statement of Significance In March 1914 the Marquette Mining Journal reported: "Automobile owners in Ishpeming and Negaunee are taking much interest in the campaign now being conducted in Gogebic county for the completion of the trunk line road between that county and Iron County...The project is one that has been under consideration for month. In addition to the benefit to be derived by automobile owners from the completion of the trunk line road, a large undeveloped agricultural country would be opened up, and the road would also give the settlers in the district traversed an opportunity to get to and from the markets." Additionally, the road would open a large portion of the Upper Peninsula to tourist traffic. During the 1910s the road was developed through the two counties; it linked Crystal Falls, the Iron County seat, with Iron River and Gogebic County on the west and Mansfield and Dickinson County on the east. The county road commission used state reward funds to improve the route in the late 1910s, grading segments of the roadway and building bridges and drainage structures along it length. Between Iron River and the county line the road made three rivers crossings: over Cook's Run River, the Paint River and the Tamarack River. Respectively designated Trunk Line Bridges 26, 27, and 28, theses were all to be 50 foot concrete girder spans. In 1915 MSHD let contracts for the three structures. The Paint River Bridge, contracted first, would be built by contractors Gaffin and Gehri. "Barnum and Counihan have been awarded the contract to build a bridge at Cook's Run and one at San Souci (over the Tamarack River)," Michigan Contractor and Builder reported in June. The builders completed the San Souci Bridge the following year for $2,826.10. The bridge marked the completion of the last link in the highway. In July 1916 the trunk line route -- designated the Cloverland Trail -- was dedicated ceremonially at San Souci. Attended by some 1,500 people in 275 cars, it was reported as "the largest assemblage ever seen in the Upper Peninsula." In the 1920s the trunk line later developed into US-2, but by 1942 this segment had been abandoned in a highway re-alignment. The road is now a forest route on the Ottawa National Forest, and the San Souci Bridge still carries vehicular traffic, in essentially unaltered condition. The concrete through girder that MSHD built here was based on a standard design that the agency had developed in the 1913-1914 biennium. During the 1910s and the 1920s, the highway department delineated straight girders in five foot increments between 30 and 50 feet for use in a wide variety of applications. "The reinforced concrete through girder is the design generally employed for spans from thirty to fifty feet in both the eighteen and twenty foot clear roadways from curb to curb," MSHD stated in its Seventh Biennial Report. "This design lends itself in the majority of cases on account of its very shallow floor system, thereby giving the waterway a maximum clearance under elevation of roadway crossing the bridge." The three bridges built in 1915-1916 in Iron County were among the first through girders designed using the standard plan; they were exceeded in age by only the Red Cedar Bridge in Ingham County and the Peshekee River Bridge in Marquette County. With the subsequent demolition of Red Cedar Bridge and the other two Iron County structures, the San Souci Bridge is technologically significant as one of the two oldest concrete girder bridges undertaken by MSHD. Built as an integral part of one of the Upper Peninsula's most important routes -- the bridge most closely aligned with the historical Cloverland Trail -- it is an important transportation-related resource.
Period of Significance 1916
Significant Date(s) 1916
Registry Type(s) 12/17/1999 National Register listed
Site ID# P22349