Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Secrets of Southeast Kansas: Marsh Ash bridges at Osawatomie

A number of unique and beautiful old bridges remain open to traffic in the southeastern part of Kansas. Osawatomie proudly claims two Marsh Arch triple span bridges listed the National Historic Register of Historic Places. Built in 1930 and rehabilitated in 2013, the Creamery Bridge spans the Marais des Cygnes River on Eighth Street. The Osawatomie Dam lies downstream. The second triple-span Marsh Arch (not pictured), constructed in 1932, spans Pottawatomie Creek south of Osawatomie.

The Marsh Engineering Company designed 76 Marsh bridges in Kansas between 1917 and 1940. Bridge builder James Barney Marsh patented his ‘rainbow arch’ design for the steel and concrete structures. Although many of Marsh bridges have been demolished, single span Marsh Arches remain on rural roads and along Historic Kansas 66. Just north of U.S. 160 east of Independence, the four-span Dewlen-Spohnhauer Marsh Arch is a landmark that continues to carry traffic.

The 11 Marsh bridges on the Historic Register in Kansas are found in Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Linn, Miami and Montgomery counties in southeast Kansas, and also in Geary, Lyon, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties.

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