Black River Harbor Suspension Bridge – Ironwood MI


“Reconstructed, 1968, but appears to have retained its original appearance.

Tom Haapoja provided information about this bridge. His father worked on its construction: ‘Built in 1938-39. They had a sawmill on site from which they took ‘select’ lumber for the bridge and boat docking area. I think the sawmill was located on the present-day parking lot. Each anchor for the suspension cables consisted of 44 tons of concrete. The concrete was transported to the forms via wheelbarrows. The construction of the East anchor was difficult because the wheelbarrows traveled uphill, and each were pushed by one man and pulled by another.’

‘It was a WPA and CCC effort. The CCC Camp discipline and logistics were provided by the US Army, but the construction supervision was provided by the WPA. About 200 Men from the Norrie CCC camp (Ironwood, Michigan) participated in the construction of the bridge and surrounding park. They worked during the cold of winter and rode to and from Camp Norrie in open trucks. Each trip took 1 1/2 hours. The architect of the bridge was ‘Oakey’ Johnson. The WPA construction foreman was ‘Charlie’ Johnson.'”   (

Source notes

Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on March 24, 2014.

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Location Info

Ottawa National Forest
Bruce Crossing, MI

Coordinates: 46.666086, -90.046140

8 comments on “Black River Harbor Suspension Bridge – Ironwood MI

  1. Michael Brooks

    The Black River and Black River Harbor are north of Bessemer, Mi on Lake Superior not near Bruce Crossing. The closest river to Bruce Crossing is the Ontonagon River.

    • Gabriel Milner

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I’ve made the changes you suggested.

  2. Summit Hoyt

    What are some other stuff the C.C.C. did in Michigan?

    • In the Upper Peninsula they planted incredible amounts of trees to replace those cut down by the lumber companies which did not practice re-forestation in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. They also fought forest fires.
      The scenic walkways/stairs along the river in the Black River Harbor area were built by them, as were many other scenic and park structures anywhere in the United States.

  3. My uncle Oakie Chris Johnson’s obit states (among other things) that he was born in Ironwood in 1909, graduated with his degree in architecture from Princeton, and then…

    “He worked for the Federal Housing Administration here and was the architect for the National Park Service in this area. He designed the original Indianhead signs that are used in Gogebic County, also the suspension bridge at Black River Harbor and several homes in the area.”

    from the Ironwood Daily Globe Ironwood, Michigan
    22 Sep 1966, Thu • Page 2

    They forgot the Massie band shell and the welcome signs and many other things, but oh well 😉

  4. This information on this page was originally taken from another site where the focus is bridges, not CCC achievements, which is why much information may seem to be missing.

  5. Luke Penrose

    Black River Harbor and the Suspension Bridge are in Ironwood township not Bessemer.

  6. Wendy Hicks

    By apparent vandalism and/or prank, at the entry to both sides of the Black River Harbor suspension foot bridge, the signs have been clearly altered to read that only two people are allowed at a time on this extremely sturdy bridge. It has caused confusion and anger amongst people crossing the bridge. If one looks closely at the sign on either side of the bridge, it is clear that the original number was twenty four, not two, as the limit of number of people on the bridge. It would seem illogical that a limit of two is the actual policy, and could / should be corrected by means that cannot be easily vandalized. If the structural limit of a bridge with nearly one inch diameter steel cables, they better close the bridge. But people are taking the altered numbers seriously. Or, is this a social distancing guide? Ha!

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