Bell Road Bridge, photo submitted 1996.
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Bell Road Bridge
Bell Road at the Huron River, Dexter Township - Washtenaw County
Property Type bridge
Historic Use TRANSPORTATION/road-related (vehicular)
Current Use WORK IN PROGRESS
Style Other
Architect/Builder Wrought Iron Bridge Company
Narrative Description The Bell Road Bridge is a single-span metal Pratt through truss structure spanning the Huron River. The bridge is 103 feet six inches in length and has a width of thirteen feet five inches. It stands at the site of a nineteenth-century milling settlement known as Dover, of which little now survives. Constructed in 1891, the six-panel structure rests on fieldstone abutments. The bridge stands in a rural, largely wooded setting on Bell Road, a less-than-half-mile east-west connector between Dexter-Pinckney Road and Huron River Drive in Dexter Township about four miles north-northwest of the village of Dexter. The road is unpaved. The bridge is currently closed to vehicular traffic.
Statement of Significance The Bell Road Bridge is one of only about ten nineteenth-century metal through truss highway bridges in Michigan and one of the few surviving bridges in the state produced by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, one of the Midwest's most important metal truss bridge-building firms.
Marker Name Bell Road Bridge/Dover
Marker Text BELL ROAD BRIDGE This Pratt through-truss bridge, erected in 1891, was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. The bridge was assembled on site by a local crew using iron connecting pins that are visible at the deck level. These pins, unique to nineteenth century iron work, made bridges easy to assemble and capable of flexing to accommodate varying weights. The bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. DOVER Judge Samuel Dexter and Isaac Pomeroy built a sawmill here in 1832. After 1846, Daniel B. Sloan & Company replaced the sawmill with a grist mill called Dover Mills, which spurred the village's growth. In 1849 the Base Lake Post Office opened here. Sometime after 1861, Thomas Birkett bought the mill and built a church in the hamlet of Dover. In 1882 the post office was renamed for him. Today, only the mill's cut stone foundation and the mill stream remain visible northwest of this bridge.
Period of Significance 1891
Registry Type(s) 02/02/1999 Marker erected
11/29/1996 National Register listed
07/17/1997 State Register listed
Site ID# P5645