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April 27,1805-The Corps of Discovery left their campsite where Fort Union is now located and followed the Missouri River into what is now MONTANA

They camped that night across the river from what is now the community of Nohly

August 5,1806- They arrived at the mouth of the Yellowstone at 4pm andfound a note left by Clark saying "Musquetors excessivly troublesom. So much So that the men complained that they could not work at their skins for those troublsom insects. and I find it entirly impossable to hunt in the bottoms....The torments of those Missquetors...induce me to deturmine to proceed to a more eliagiable Spot..."

The Fairview Lift Bridge  is located across the North Dakota border 3.5 miles east of Fairview and two miles west of Cartwright, ND. This bridge along with its sister bridge at Snowden, MT was constructed as part of an ambitious plan by Great Northern Railroad for its never-completed Montana Eastern Railway. According to Richard E. Johnson in a 1994 article published in "Hoofprints," (the publication of the Yellowstone Corral of the Westerners) the railway was designed as a second mainline for the northern plains, connecting the vast open spaces between New Rockford, ND, and Lewistown, MT. About the time World War I began, an economic downturn of the Montana Eastern Railway brought construction to a halt. According to Mark Hufstetler, a historian with Renewable Technologies Inc., of Butte, MT, the Fairview Lift Bridge served as a little-used branchline. He stated "At its peak, the line probably saw no more than one passenger and one freight train each way per day."

History of the Fairview Lift Bridge

The Fairview Lift Bridge constructed by Gerrick & Gerrick stretches 1,320 feet across the Yellowstone River. In its earlier days, the Fairview Lift Bridge not only accommodated rail traffic, but also vehicular traffic. Planking was placed between and outside the rails to accommodate automobiles. According to Hufstetler, a watchman was stationed at the bridge to prevent trains and automobiles from colliding. He wrote that Great Northern charged a toll for cars using the bridge until the state highway department assumed responsibility in 1937. Automobile traffic ceased and the planking was removed once construction of the Hjalmer Nelson Memorial Highway Bridge was completed in 1956. Passenger rail service on the line ended in the late 1950s and the last freight rail service to cross the bridge was on June 5, 1986.
The Cartwright Tunnel
While now closed to both rail and vehicular traffic, the Fairview Lift Bridge adjoins the only tunnel in North Dakota. The 1,458-foot long tunnel was built in 1912 and 1913. Most of the digging was done by hand, although horse and mule-drawn scrapers and blasting powder were used in building the approaches.
Historical Value of the Fairview Lift Bridge
In 1991, the state began a survey of historic bridges. The Fairview Lift Bridge was on the list of 127 found eligible for the National Register. It was among 30 chosen for nomination. According to Hufstetler, who submitted the nomination, the bridge qualifies both for its historical significance and its unique engineering. In 1997, the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Being that both the Cartwright Tunnel and Fairview Lift Bridge remain structurally sound, the Fairview Chamber of Commerce has developed them into a walking trail.
History of the Snowden Lift Bridge
The Snowden Lift Bridge crossing the Missouri River 10 miles north of Fairview is a twin to the Fairview Lift Bridge. It, like the Fairview Lift Bridge, was constructed as part of the Montana Eastern Railway. Until 1986, the historic Snowden Lift Bridge was likely the only bridge left in the country to accommodate both rail and vehicular traffic. While modern-day liability concerns eventually forced the expulsion of automobile traffic, the bridge remains in use by rail traffic.
History of the Bridges Construction and Components
At the time construction of the two bridges began in 1912, federal law required an 80-ft. height clearance from the average water level on navigable waters. Being that both the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers were navigable, both bridges were designed to accommodate the law. The best option the railroad had to accommodate the 80-ft requirement was to install a 'lift' section in each bridge allowing one of its sections to be raised to allow the passage of oversize river traffic. The design of this style of drawbridge is distinct from others in that an entire section is uniformly lifted from each end. The nearly 300-ft. 'lift' section of each bridge weighs 1.4 million lbs. The 'lift' section consists of two 108-ft. towers that house the counterweights. Each counterweight connects to the section using 16 two-inch cables (eight cables per corner). Because the weight of the section was so well counterbalanced, a 3-cylinder kerosene engine is all that was required to raise and lower the section. Being that all river traffic ceased on both the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers in 1913, the only time the 'lift' section on the Fairview Lift Bridge was raised was at the completion of construction in 1913 to test the lift mechanism's functionality. The last time the Snowden Lift Bridge's 'lift' section was raised was in 1935 to allow the passage of a freight boat carrying materials for the Fort Peck Dam. After nearly a century, (although no longer operational on either bridge) the equipment required to lift the bridge sections remain fully intact minus the 3-cylinder kerosene engine from the Fairview Lift Bridge, which was removed several years ago. Unlike the Fairview Lift Bridge, the Snowden Lift Bridge is uniquely designed in a fashion that the counterweights and accompanying lift mechanisms can be moved to another section of the bridge should the navigation channel of the river shift. The cost to build each bridge was $500,000.

Fairview Chamber of Commerce
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Information for this page was obtained from The Fairview Chamber of Commerce web site.  Please visit by clicking here.

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