Avery Rd. / Galien River

MDOT Historic Bridge Berrien County Avery Rd. / Galien River

County: Berrien

City/Township: Weesaw Twp.

Location: Avery Rd. / Galien River

Year Built: 1928

About this Bridge:
The Avery Road Bridge is eligible for nomination to the National Register as an excellent example of a 60-foot, curved-chord, through-girder bridge built according to state standard plans. Since the road it carries was constructed in 1922, it is probable that the bridge was also built that year, making the bridge the oldest example left. Due to attrition, relatively few examples of this bridge type are still standing, with an even smaller number of those in good physical condition.

The bridge site is located at about the mid-point of the Galien River, near the small village of New Troy. The river, which has its source near Galien, flows in a northerly route towards New Troy, where the east branch of the Galien River joins the main branch just south of the village. Shortly after the convergence, and just east of the bridge, stands a vacant mill once powered by the river. From the bridge site, the river flows in a southwesterly direction to New Buffalo, where it drains into Lake Michigan.

A map from 1860 shows that only a small number of roads, including those known as Avery and Glendora roads today, were located in the township. The appearance of a bridge or ford on the map suggests the Avery Road location has been a river crossing since at least that time. With the increased use of the automobile, the early 1920s were a period of great public demand for better roads. Berrien County Road Commission minutes show that bonds were issued for "paving, etc." of Avery Road on 25 March 1921. Road plans, dated July 1922, show a structure at the site of the current bridge which appears to be one lane. Although no mention of a new bridge can be found on the plans, it seems likely that any necessary bridge work would have been completed concurrently with the road improvements.

An Historic Bridge Inventory Form completed in 1982 shows 1928 as the date of construction. Since no mention of the bridge can be found in Road Commission minutes from 1926 to 1929, this date appears to be incorrect. The Tenth Biennial Report lists a State Reward Bridge, built by "W. Marshall & Son," of the same type and size and in what appears to be the same location. Since the report covers the biennial period from 1 July 1922 to 30 June 1924, it appears that the bridge was built within that period. Hand-written field notes in the bridge files of the Berrien County Road Commission indicate that a bridge plate (since removed) named "W. Marshall and Sons, Grand Rapids, Mich." as the contractor of the Avery Road Bridge. The plate also noted that it was a "State Reward Bridge, Built Jointly by State Highway Department, Frank F. Rogers, Commissioner; [and the] Board of Berrien County Road Commissioners." This corroborates the circa 1923 construction date.