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Bridge L3040 in Scott County.

Bridge L3040 on County Road 51 over unnamed stream

 

Bridge number: L3040

Year built: 1878

Span length: 15 feet

Length of arch barrel: 14 feet

 

 

Adapted from the National Register of Historic Places nomination form prepared by Jeffrey A. Hess. Bridge No. L-3040 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. It was demolished in 2006 and removed from the National Register in 2007.

 

 

Description

Bridge No. L-3040 is a single-span, stone-arch bridge that carries unpaved Co. Rd. 51 over a dry stream bed. Built of yellow coursed-ashlar limestone the bridge displays flared stepped wing walls and a semicircular arch with a 15-foot span springing from grade level. The south end of the arch is partially buried by drifted sand. Although the foundation beneath the northwest corner of the arch has been eroded, the bridge maintains its stability. The roadway is bordered by metal railings, angle-iron on the west and pipe on the east. The railings are embedded in deteriorating concrete parapets that cover the original stone coping. The bridge's overall width is about 14 feet.

 

The bridge has unusually fine masonry for a rural structure. Mortar joints are one-half inch thick in the spandrel walls and one-quarter inch thick between the ring stones. The spandrel stones immediately above the arch are cut with a concave surface to fit the curve of the extrados. Ornamented with tooled margins, the keystones are slightly elongated, flared and protruding. Although both keystones originally displayed the inscription "1878," the west elevation retains only the first three digits, having lost the final "8" to a vertical fracture. The other ring stones, measuring 12 inches in width and 18 inches in height, are well blocked with tooled lower margins. The source of the bridge's limestone has not been determined, although it apparently originated in the same quarry that supplied stone for the abutments of a railway girder bridge about 50 yards to the west. Despite alterations to the original parapet and some deterioration of the limestone, the bridge retains the most significant features of its original design, especially in terms of the configuration of the arch and the precision of the stonework.


 

Historic significance

Bridge No. L-3040 is historically significant as a rare and early example of "permanent" highway construction. The bridge is also significant as the state's oldest, known, surviving, stone-arch highway bridge. Most stone-arch bridges in the state were built by local governments during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as part of the "Good Roads Movement." The movement was a coalition of farmers, bicyclists, motorists, engineers and politicians who were intent on improving the quality, comfort and safety of rural highways and bridges. Typically, country stone-arch bridges are modest rubble-masonry, back-roads structures with spans ranging from 10 feet to 15 feet in length.

 

Although Scott County records provide no historical information on the bridge, the "1878" date stones establish the period of construction, which precedes the Good Roads Movement by almost two decades. During this era, there was limited public support and even less public funding for permanent highway bridges, especially in rural areas. Inexpensive, temporary, wooden bridges were the rule in Scott County, as well as elsewhere in the state. The construction of Bridge No. L-3040 was an unusual event, which seems to have been underscored by the quality of the bridge's masonry. Unlike the unadorned rubble-masonry bridges that were later built in rural areas, Bridge No. L-3040 is a thin-jointed, coursed-ashlar structure incorporating a type of ornamentation usually reserved for more visible municipal and railroad bridges. These ornamental details include date stones, flared, elongated and protruding keystones and tooled margins on the ring stones.