Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Waterford Iron Bridge

The Waterford Iron Bridge was constructed in 1909 by the Hennepin Bridge Company. The funding was provided by  Dakota County and Waterford Township.  Project management included an unusual twist in the funding and contracting process. In the past (early 1900's) the County would provide the funding to the townships FIRST, and then the township would schedule the project. This resulted in many projects not being completed, as the Townships or Cities would spend the funding on other things rather than undertaking or completing the funded project. To  prevent this with the Waterford Bridge project, the Dakota County surveyor was selected to design the bridge and the County would choose the contractor, with the Township providing the funding in advance for the project.

The design developed by Charles Forbes was innovative for it's time, as it incorporated the "hot weld" method of bolts and a "through" truss design called "camel back". Testament to the design and construction techniques is the fact that the bridge was continuous use from 1909-2009 for vehicle traffic. It is one of the last standing of it's type, and to the best of our knowledge the only one still in use.

Now, and moving forward, with additional repair work the bridge will continue to serve the Township as a pedestrian bridge for many years to come. Floods have proven to be a challenge, repairs to one of the abutments were done in the early 1980's after being it was damaged by flood waters. Although, the 2010 flood waters reached the very bottom of the bridge, the bridge did not suffer damage. But the bridge does need help.

         Bridge Future

Waterford Township has maintained this bridge for the past 100 years and will continue to do so. We will work toward providing a safe pedestrian bridge for hikers from the Carleton Arboretum or bicyclists from the local area

         Bridge Contest

American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have chosen 25 historic places in the Twin Cites area to participate in  Partners in Preservation, a philanthropic program that encourages members of the community to vote on Facebook for the local historic places the communicty  wants to see preservation funding used for.

We can support Waterford Township, beginning September 20th, 2011 and continuing through October 12, 2011 by going to Partners inPreservation on Facebook. At the Partners in Preservation site, there  will a list of the 25 historic sites that are competing for the grants from American Express. Click on the “Waterford Iron Bridge” and your vote will be counted! You can vote once a day, every day till the 12th of October!. Have no fears about voting daily, this is not a poll, but about measuring the intensity of support, and nothing says” this is the one” more than your daily vote!

Once the voting concludes, the historic place with the most votes is guaranteed its full grant request, then the rest of the million dollars will be awarded by American Express, National Historic Trust for Preservation and local civic and community leaders will determine how the rest of the million dollars will be awarded.

For more information find  us on Twitter at WaterfordBridg1, or  contact Liz Messner  507.581.9067   lmessner@rconnect.com or Janalee Cooper 507.202.0702  janaleejcooper@gmail.com


  1. I'm very impressed with the Waterford Iron Bridge. This bridge remained in exceptionally good condition throughout its life. However, I heard last year that it was near its end. I'm glad it's okay now. Today, only a few bridges like the Waterford Iron Bridge provide some conformity with natural surroundings. Not to mention, the big tree that divides the road to Waterford (right) with the Dudley (left), which is some kind of a trademark for the Waterford.

    Alphonse Daigle

  2. The Waterford Iron Bridge is a wonderful example of a camel back bridge. This is one of the oldest types of bridge, but you will notice that there are still a lot of bridges everywhere with that kind of structure. I guess we owe a lot to the designer for being able to come up with a concept that could, and has, stood the test of time. Anyway, I have observed that every time I see a camel back bridge, it becomes a landmark of that particular area.

    Salvatore Aguilar