Brickmine Bridge project set to be complete this coming week

The Brickmine Bridge is back at home over the Pembina River.

Posted on 10/5/17

By Lisa Nowatzki

The historic bridge is located on County Highway 55, five miles west of Walhalla.

Since last fall, the bridge has been in the care of Industrial Builders, Inc. in West Fargo. The restoration project was scheduled to be finished early next year, however, the project went a little faster than predicted.

The bridge was set on its pilings on September 25. According to Cavalier County Road Supervisor Terry Johnston, the bridge and road will be open and ready to drive on by the end of next week, at the latest.

The NDDOT began working with Cavalier County on planning the restoration project in 2015. During the next two years, the bridge was reviewed by the NDDOT and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), a sub-office within the State Historical Society.

The goal of the SHPO is historical preservation within the applicable state and federal preservation laws. The office reviews projects through Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to determine the proposed project’s effect on historic resources. For the Brickmine Bridge project, the goal was to restore the bridge and maintain a “No Adverse Effect” determination for the bridge.

Throughout the restoration process, the bridge was subject to strenuous and rigorous standards of treatment outlined by SHPO. According to Lorna Meidinger, Architectural Historian with the State Historical Society, and Robert Christensen, Cultural Resource Section Leader at NDDOT, the bridge was repaired with parts that aligned with keeping the “historic integrity of the bridge.”

If some component needed replacing, then the same material or part was sought out. If the same material was not available, then a substitute material with either in-kind or with a sensitive design and materials was used.

Historical restoration comes with a hefty price. According to Johnston, the contract fee for restoring the Brickmine Bridge came in at just over One Million dollars. Because of the historical value of the bridge, NDDOT and the SHPO funded the entire cost of the restoration.

The bridge was identified as having historical and cultural value because of the type of bridge construction and the purpose of the structure.

The bridge was built in 1905 by the Fargo Bridge & Iron Company for $4,420. It was originally named for the nearby mine that clay and shale were dug out of  to be used by the Mayo Brick and Tile Company.

Part of the value of the bridge is in its design. The design is called a Warren Truss. Warren for the name of the inventor, James Warren, who first patented the design in 1848. The Warren truss bridge design uses equilateral triangles to spread out the loads on the bridge. Meidinger, of the State Historical Society, explained that what makes the Brickmine Bridge unique in North Dakota is the bridge type. “The design is not a common type in North Dakota so the Brickmine Bridge is a rare example of a early twentieth century bridge,” Meidinger said.

Truss bridges were ideal for a rural area such as Cavalier County in the early 1900s and its primary users during that time, the Mayo Brick and Tile Company.