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Minnesota's Historic Bridges
Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge
Historic Significance

Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge

The Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge is historically significant for its association with the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio, one of the important out-of-state bridge builders in Minnesota. The bridge is also significant as an example of the continuing experimentation with bridge truss configuration during the late 19th century. The Church Campground Bridge retains excellent integrity.

As Minnesota's population grew early in the second half of the 19th century, a system of transportation evolved which featured railroad lines and a web a local roads leading from rural areas to shipping points along the railroads. These roads needed bridges over rivers and streams to insure year-round travel. The first bridges in Minnesota were constructed of wood, but in the late 1860s and early 1870s, local governments in the state began to build wrought iron bridges because of long-term cost advantages. After early experimentation with a variety of other structural configurations, the pin-connected Pratt truss became, by the 1880s, the most widely used type of wrought iron bridge. Nevertheless, bridge engineers and builders continued to experiment with innovative truss configurations in an effort to improve strength, economize on materials, or increase the ease with which trusses could be fabricated in the shop or assembled in the field. Edwin Thacher, for example, patented an approach to configuring trusses which was supposed to minimize the deformation caused by expansion and contraction due to temperature change.

According to the name plate on the Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge, it was built in 1893 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The Lac qui Parle Commissioners Record for 1893 and 1894 does not clearly mention this specific bridge, so it may have been built entirely at the expense of the Township. The Commissioners Record does mention the King Bridge Company and its agent, "Mr. [Milo A.] Adams," in connection with the construction of one bridge in the southern part of the county and repair of another. The King Bridge Company was one of the first contractors to build an iron bridge in Minnesota (across the Rum River at Anoka in 1870) and its business increased through the 19th century as more local governments chose to have bridges built of iron. The company's agent, M.A. Adams, established his own Minneapolis-based bridge building firm early in the 20th century. He later became one of the most active bridge contractors in Minnesota.

M.A. Adams obtained numerous bridge contracts in Lac qui Parle County. While the largest number of bridges erected by the King Bridge Company were conventional trusses of the Pratt configuration, the company continued to try new truss configurations through the end of the 19th century. The Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge may have been such an experimental effort. Although not a Thacher truss, the A-frame configuration at the center panel bears similarity to a Thacher. The Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, is known to have built several Thacher trusses, but according, to David Simmons, Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, and an expert on the King Bridge Company, the King Bridge Company is not known to have built any bridges of this type. The Yellow Bank Church Campground Bridge may have been an experiment related to the Thacher. At any rate, it is the only truss of its kind in Minnesota. There is, however, an identical truss bridge in Hamlin County, South Dakota, west of Lac qui Parle County.

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