Historic Bridges in Minnesota
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Bridge 2366 in Beltrami County .

1st Street over the Mississippi River in Beltrami County


Bridge number: 2366

Year built: 1916

Engineer: Standard Reinforced Concrete Company, Indianapolis

Contractor: Illinois Steel Bridge Company

Overall length: 168 feet

Overall width: 31 feet


Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places nomination form prepared by Robert M. Frame III. The Nymore Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.




The Nymore Bridge is located in downtown Bemidji, Minnesota, where it carries First Street, County Highway 110, over the Mississippi River. At this point the Mississippi is essentially a channel between Lake Bemidji on the north and Lake Irving on the south. When built in 1916, the bridge carried "Old Highway 2," connecting the city of Bemidji with the village of Nymore. In 1917, Nymore was annexed by the city of Bemidji as the fifth ward. Today, the main city traffic is carried by Bridge No. 5316, located a short distance northeast on Paul Bunyan Drive, Minnesota State Highway 197. Nymore Bridge continues to serve local traffic.


Aligned on a northwest-southeast axis, Nymore Bridge is a three-span, reinforced concrete, filled-spandrel, barrel-vault, segmental-arch bridge, with no sidewalks and "U" abutments. Overall length is 168 feet, with a center span length of 65 feet, and adjacent spans of approximately 40 feet. The bridge's out-out width is 31 feet, carrying a 28-foot roadway. Maximum vertical clearance is approximately 15 feet. Piers and abutments are marked by prominent pilasters. The piers have round starlings, identical on both upstream and downstream sides. The bridge has Classical Revival elements, including raised, bush-hammered panels on pilasters, abutments, spandrel walls and the filled-panel railings. A large utility pipe obscures (but does not alter) the west railing. Five of eight original light-standards survive. The bridge retains structural and design integrity.


The reinforcing system employed in the Nymore Bridge was patented in 1906 by George M. Cheney, Indianapolis, Indiana, and received Letters Patent No. 820,921. Cheney's patent was assigned to the Standard Reinforced Concrete Company, also of Indianapolis, Indiana, who prepared the plans and specifications for Nymore Bridge. Cheney's system basically involves constructing an arched metal truss of angles and gusset plants, separated into vertical panels, all of which is pinned and/or wired together. Angles extend up to reinforce the spandrel walls. This structure is erected, forms constructed around it, concrete poured and the arch truss becomes embedded in the concrete. Cheney claimed in The Specifications of Letters Patent for Patent No. 820,921 that his system was designed "to produce a reinforcing structure adapted to be embedded within the concrete, the construction and arrangement of said reinforcing structure being such as to eliminate or nearly eliminate the probability of cracking, but also being such that if there be cracking it will occur along predetermined lines the concrete structure being so formed as to render less apparent any such cracks."



Historic significance

The Nymore Bridge is historically significant as an excellent, unaltered, very early, large, urban, barrel-vault, reinforced concrete bridge in Minnesota. It is additionally significant for its use of a patented reinforcing system during the period of experimentation in reinforcing materials and systems. Designed and built in 1916, it is one of a small group of early, large, reinforced concrete arch bridge designed in the Classical Revival style, which is appropriate for the City Beautiful movement then in vogue for prominent urban structures. It was planned to connect the city of Bemidji with the village of Nymore, which was annexed by Bemidji about 1917 and became the city's fifth ward. Not only was the crossing of political significance, giving the bridge its original name, but also is a geographically important crossing. When built, Nymore Bridge carried State Route No. 2 over the Mississippi River channel between the city's two major lakes, Lake Bemidji and Lake Irving. Today, the main city traffic is carried by Mn/DOT Bridge No. 53416, located a short distance northeast on Paul Bunyan Drive.


The plans and specifications for Nymore Bridge were prepared by the Standard Reinforced Concrete Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. The firm used the assigned Letters Patent No. 820,921 for "Concrete-Bridge Reinforcement," which had been granted in 1906 to George M. Cheney, also of Indianapolis, Indiana. Cheney's system involved embedding in the concrete a metal-arch truss, which was engineered to produce a minimum amount of cracking in the finished surface. This was not Cheney's first bridge patent. In 1902, Cheney was granted Patent No. 708,463 for "Bridge Construction" (to construct reinforced concrete arch bridges and culverts), which also involved a metal arch system, including the railing, which was embedded in poured concrete.


Two contractors are reported to have bid on the Standard company's design incorporating Cheney's patent, the Illinois Steel Bridge Company and the Minneapolis Bridge Company. The Illinois firm, represented by St. Paul, Minnesota, agents John Zelch and P.T. Walton, had the winning low bid. The final bid, following negotiations with the city, was $22,772. Both firms also bid on a two-arch version and a steel bridge. Zelch had served in the Minnesota House of Representatives 1891-1893 and 1905-1909. From 1912 to 1935, either with Walton or working alone, he represented the Illinois company. The scheduled completion date for the bridge was January 1, 1917, but a series of problems, including strikes and bad weather delayed the work. As a result, the structure was not completed until the fall of 1917.