Sunday, December 18, 2011
The Meridian Bridge in Yankton, South Dakota was built in 1924. This double decker, vertical lift bridge was initially a toll bridge. Trains were to run on the lower deck and vehicles on the upper deck. For some reason the trains never did travel on the lower deck. With the bridge being only 33 feet wide the lower deck was converted to the traffic heading south bound to Nebraska and the upper deck would serve as the north bound route to South Dakota on Highway 81. In 1953 the bridge became a non toll bridge allowing free passage to it's travelers and in 1993 the Meridian Bridge was added to the National Registry of Historical Places. In 2008 the Meridian Bridge was replaced with the Discovery Bridge built directly to the west. Presently the Meridian Bridge has been converted to a pedestrian bridge for all to enjoy. It will eventually link a series of multi-use trails along the Missouri River corridor.
Personally, I love this bridge. It has been an icon of the city of Yankton since it was built. I have traveled over this bridge hundreds of times. It wasn't until a couple weekends ago, when I walked across the bridge for the first time, that I realized how truly grand this structure really is. The overall engineering that went into building a structure like this just amazes me. The nuts, bolts, welds, rivets were all done by skilled laborers with no modern power tools. If that isn't enough just think of working high above the Missouri River!
My hats off to all the people and governing bodies that built this structure. Thank you also to the people that helped save and continue to take care of this prairie icon.