Wolkoff Rd. / Au Train River
City/Township: Au Train
Location: Wolkoff Rd. / Au Train River
Year Built: 1921
About this Bridge:
This medium-scale steel bridge carries Wolkoff Road over the Au Train River about a half-mile east of the town of Au Train. The structure is comprised of a single plate girder span, flanked on each end by a steel stringer approach span. These are supported by concrete full-height abutments and concrete-filled steel cylinder piers. The main span features two 60-foot through girders, joined by four underslung I-beam stringers. A builder’s plate on the girder identifies its fabricator: the Worden-Allen Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Au Train River Bridge is currently limited to pedestrian and snowmobile traffic, with the roadway partially blocked by 55-gallon drums and Armco railing. Its alterations are relatively minor: the approach span guardrails and perhaps the spans themselves have been replaced.
The Michigan State Highway Department delineated plans for steel plate through girders bridge among its first standard designs in 1907-1908. Intended for spans between 30 and 60 feet, these girders were used with moderate frequency in the state between 1908 and 1915. The Au Train River Bridge in Alger County uses a 60-foot-span MSHD standard girder. The structure was built in 1914 by Alger County or Au Train Township as part of work on the secondary road that skirted the Lake Superior shore between Munising and Au Train. “The steel bridge, about one and one-half miles from the village of Au Train, spanning the Au Train river, has gone into commission,” Michigan Contractor and Builder reported in October 1914.
The contractors combined a 19th century-type substructure with the newly designed girder superstructure, which had been fabricated in Milwaukee by the Worden-Allen Company. Reportedly costing $35000, the structure was “one of the best of its kind in this part of Cloverland,” stated Michigan Contractor and Builder. The road and bridge were later incorporated into M-94, which itself became M-28 in the 1930s. Since its completion, the Au Train River Bridge has carried vehicular traffic until its more recent closure. The bridge is historically significant as one of only two remaining examples of this important early MSHD design standard.