“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Cartwright in McKenzie County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge

1955 - 1997

Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 27, 2020
1. Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge Marker
Inscription.  For thirty-one years, automobile traffic crossed the Fairview railroad bridge. This was obviously a dangerous situation and accidents did occur, but none involving a train and surprisingly, no deaths were reported. Although a highway bridge has been discussed in the late 1930's, World War II interrupted the decision. In 1949, however, a serious effort was made to fund the construction of a bridge. Although the project was not popular with representatives and senators from the eastern part of the state, Hjalmer Nelson, senator from McKenzie County, introduced a bill (Senate Bill 157) for the appropriation of money to construct the bridge. An appropriation of "$500,000 was to be taken out of any monies in the State Treasury not otherwise appropriated or so much thereof as may be necessary to match federal funds of like amount now available or hereafter to become available for a bridge...and direct the state highway commissioner and his officers and engineers to prepare plans and specifications for such bridge...."

By the time preliminary estimates for construction were available, it was obvious that $500,000 to match the same amount
Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
2. Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge Marker
The marker is on the left.
of federal funds was not enough to construct the bridge. The next legislative session would prove to be interesting when it came to paying a deficiency in the original appropriations. Representatives Halvor Rolfsrud and former Governor Arthur Link of McKenzie County, together with four other members, introduced House Bill No: 732. Unlike there first appropriation which called for money from the State Treasury, this bill appropriated $357,000 "out of highway construction funds." This was not a popular bill with the Highway Commissioner, Severt W. Thompson, but after the legislature passed the bill and Governor Norman Brunsdale signed it, the bridge was built.

The crossing and bridge location was north of the present highway structure. It was selected based upon geology and the alignment with Highway 93 that was completed on both the east and west side. Steel for the bridge came from casting and forging from the United States Steel Corporation, Gary, Indiana; Locomotive Finished Material Company, Atchison, Kansas; and the Kropp Forge Company, Cicero, Illinois. The Kansas Structural Steel Company, Kansas City, Kansas, fabricated the steel members. John F. Beasley Construction Company, Chicago, Illinois, erected the superstructure, and (Milton) Rue Construction had the contract for the constructed of the substructure. The total cost of the was $1,463,219, approximately
Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, August 26, 2020
3. Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge
half of which was federal matching funds.

The design of the bridge was considered a deck truss, and was one of two such designs in the state. The design is basically a through truss, with the deck constructed on the top cord. This particular structure had five spans measuring from 252 feet to 378 feet in length. Three steel girder approach spans, connecting land to the bridge at both ends, ranged from 101 feet to 130 feet. The total length of the bridge was 1,921 feet; the road width was 22 feet. More than 3.8 million pounds of steel and 6, 545 cubic yards of concrete were used in its construction. Over the years the design, with it narrow road width, became substandard and the bridge was replaced with the present structure in 1998.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Bridges & Viaducts.
Location. 47° 51.518′ N, 103° 58.158′ W. Marker is near Cartwright, North Dakota, in McKenzie County. Marker can be reached from Black Top Road near Highway 200. The marker is in Sundheim Park near the lift bridge. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cartwright ND 58838, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Cartwright Tunnel (here, next to this marker); Fairview Lift Bridge (here, next to this marker); The Montana Eastern Railway Company (here, next to this marker);
Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge is long gone. image. Click for full size.
By Google maps, December 9, 2020
4. Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Bridge is long gone.
All that remain of the bridge are two pillar in the middle of the Yellowstone River, north of the Montana State Highway 200 bridge. (Two tiny dots on either side of "Yellowstone River.")
Mining Lignite Coal (approx. 3˝ miles away in Montana); Plants of the Plains (approx. 8.6 miles away); Water Ways and Mean (approx. 8.6 miles away); Mosquitoes (approx. 8.8 miles away); Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence (approx. 8.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cartwright.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 9, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 31 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 9, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Mar. 6, 2021