- Bruce Crossing, Ironwood, MI
- Site Type:
- Roads, Bridges, and Tunnels, Infrastructure and Utilities
- New Deal Agencies:
- Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Work Relief Programs, Works Progress Administration (WPA)
- Site Survival:
This historic Depression-era bridge was built in 1938-9 and reconstructed in 1968.
Bridgemeister: 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.
Tom Haapoja provided information about this bridge. His father worked on its construction:
Arthur Haapoja was my father and he was part of the CCC crew who built the suspension bridge at Black River Harbor. He told me that one of his jobs nearing the completion of the bridge was to put copper covers on the joints of the timbers up high in the structure. He said he would shimmy up the trestle and put each cover on then he etched his initials on them. He was able to see his initials from the ground for many years, but they were replaced in the 1968 restoration. They also built the park shelter building, picnic tables, wells, docks, piers, roads, trails as well part of the crew carved Indianhead road signs that were placed near the park and all across Gogebic County, MI.
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.
Haapoja, Thomas. Personal interview with Haapoja, Arthur.
Site originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on March 24, 2014.
Additional contributions by Thomas Haapoja.
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