|Rutledge Road Bridge||Truss||Rutledge Road||Mackinac County, MI||Rural||Munuscong River|
Thanks to Luke Gordon for visiting and photographing this bridge.
This fascinating bridge sits on a short road that nearly nobody uses. Usually in Michigan, that means the bridge will be replaced with a two-lane slab of concrete. This bridge instead has had a new deck put on it recently. Perhaps it is safe for a few years. The deck design was redone with attention paid to historic accuracy.
Compared with other pony trusses in Michigan, the Rutledge Road Bridge is among the more beautiful of Michigan's pony truss bridges. The bridge is a warren pony truss with riveted connections, and it sits on concrete abutments. Buttresses are present on the vertical members. The steel on the bridge was fabricated by the Cambria Steel Company. Original lattice railing remains on the bridge, and v-lacing is present on all diagonals, as well as under the top chord. A small portion of the lattice railing has been replaced by a section of metal that looks like someone took a little time to make look halfway like the lattice. This all makes the bridge look quite ornate.
The members on this bridge are a bit more massive than most Michigan pony trusses. The plaque on the bridge lends some insight as to why this is so. The bridge is listed as a State Trunkline Bridge, which means it would have been made more bulky than a rural truss bridge, since it would be carrying the heavier trunkline traffic. Since the construction date of this bridge is 1914, this bridge was built in the first year of the state trunkline system's existence! It is not the first however; that credit goes to a concrete girder in Marquette County. Rutledge Road Bridge is on a road that basically goes nowhere, and nothing indicates that this road was ever part of a state trunkline. My guess is that this bridge is not in its original location. This bridge may have been on a trunkline elsewhere, and when the bridge became insufficient for the road it was on, it was given or sold to Mackinac county, who used it for this rural crossing.
I would consider this bridge significant as a former trunkline truss bridge, built in the first year of the state trunkline system's creation. It was likely built to a standard plan developed by the State Highway Department. Due to attrition, this is likely now a very rare example of the plan. Also, as MDOT's website mentions, the bridge was built by Central State Bridge Co. of Indianapolis, and is the last example of this company's work in Michigan. Its outstanding historic integrity also makes it an important structure. Plentiful v-lacing also makes this a beautiful bridge. Luckily, this bridge does not appear to be threatened with destruction yet.