Yellow Dog River Bridge revisited
By ANN HILTON FISHER
The Marquette Regional History Center recently received these photographs from the son of Gust Hill, an Ishpeming resident who died in 1980. Gust Hill’s son, Philip, told us that the photos, which are dated July 1923, show his father and others constructing a bridge over the Yellow Dog River.
The photos show what a time of transition this was. Horses were used in the construction, but the crew traveled to the jobsite in a truck. Traditional wooden cribs were built to support the roadway, but they were reinforced with metal rods. It appears that the workers camped at or near the worksite.
Other than the names of some of the workers, and the details that can be determined from the photos themselves, we could find very little information about this bridge, including its location. There are no mentions of the construction in the newspaper.
Fortunately, Alex Elsenheimer, Principal Engineer with the Marquette County Road Commission, was able to determine that this was the original bridge over the Yellow Dog on County Road 510. He found engineering drawings from 1973 when the bridge was rebuilt. The drawings describe the old bridge, noting “abutments & center pier are wood cribs filled with rock. The wood cribs are constructed from untreated poles.”
Gust Hill did not go on to have a career in road construction. His obituary from 1980 states that he spent his career as a miner for Cleveland Cliffs.
We are very grateful to Philip M. Hill for providing us with this look at the hard-working road construction crews of a century ago. If you have some old photos of local worksites, consider sharing them with the Marquette Regional History Center so others may enjoy them too.