Although heavy rain disrupted the celebrations, it couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm Forsyth residents felt for their new bridge, dedicated on July 4, 1905. Prior to the bridge’s construction, Rosebud County residents had to ford the Yellowstone River in low water or depend on an irregular ferry service; the nearest bridge was forty-five miles downstream at Miles City. Rosebud County commissioned William S. Hewett and Co. to construct this pin-connected Pennsylvania through-truss bridge for $53,200. One of Montana’s most prolific bridge builders, Hewett was responsible for the construction of at least fifteen Montana bridges in and around the Yellowstone Valley between 1897 and 1906. Construction began on December 22, 1904. The crew poured the massive concrete piers before assembling the large steel components, fabricated in the east and shipped to Forsyth by rail. Warming weather and spring flooding sometimes forced the bridge crew to work chest deep in cold water. Nevertheless, construction was completed ahead of schedule. Providing convenient access to the county seat and the Northern Pacific terminal, the bridge saw a marked increase in traffic after construction of the Milwaukee railroad brought homesteaders to north Rosebud County. Originally three spans in length, the southern span crossed the primary river channel; the two northern spans crossed the flood plains. When the bridge was closed in 1958, replaced by a concrete bridge several hundred yards upstream, two of its three spans were salvaged for scrap metal. The southernmost span remains, an example of the tremendous public investment in infrastructure that accompanied the homesteading boom.

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3rd Avenue at Yellowstone, Forsyth, Montana ~ Private