M-156 / Silver Creek

M-156 / Silver Creek

County: Lenawee

City/Township: Morenci

Location: M-156 / Silver Creek

Year Built: 1935

About this Bridge:
The Murray D. Van Wagoner Memorial Bridge is eligible for the National Register for its association with a memorial highway and the related tourism industry, and as a named bridge at a state border.

The city of Morenci, which was platted in 1852 and incorporated as a village in 1871, served the county early on as an important industrial and grain mill center. The present bridge over Silver Creek was constructed in 1935 at a cost of $35,700 by the W.H. Knapp Company, a contractor based in Monroe. The bridge replaced an older 40-foot Pratt pony truss at the site that was in very poor condition. Funding for new construction came from the Hayden-Cartwright program, a national federal relief effort. As a part of a larger national development of the Taft Memorial Highway, the bridge project represented a cooperative venture by the state highway department and the Taft Memorial Highway Association. The association had been established in 1930 to honor the nation's twenty-seventh president by creating a memorial highway extending from Florida to Michigan.

Attended by more than 5,000 people, the bridge's dedication ceremony on 31 July 1935 featured a main address by the state highway commissioner, Murray D. Van Wagoner, after whom the city council had named the structure. Van Wagoner headed the Michigan State Highway Department from 1933 until 1940, when he was elected governor. Other notable guests included the president of the Taft Memorial Highway Association, the mayor of Morenci, a state senator, the head of the state highway department's bridge division, and the department's district engineer.