The Northern Pacific Railroad platted the townsite of Glendive in 1882 against the arid Montana “badlands.” The location was an ideal supply and distribution center since it was where the railroad first met the Yellowstone River, but Glendive looked to ranchers and farmers on the river’s opposite side for economic support. After more than a decade of debate, the county erected the first bridge at Glendive in the mid-1890s. The four-span bridge included a swing span because the Yellowstone was still considered navigable. The bridge provided stockmen and farmers direct access to the railroad and made stage travel to points northwest much more reliable. In 1899, the bridge was washed out by a flood and ice jam. The Army Corps of Engineers had by then determined the Yellowstone no longer navigable, and the bridge was rebuilt using one original span plus three new ones. It sufficed until better technology rendered the older structure obsolete. The new bridge, constructed between 1924 and 1926 with federal aid under the auspices of the Montana State Highway Commission, consists of six riveted Warren through trusses. This type of bridge construction is characterized by the “W” configuration made by its diagonal members and above-roadway trusswork. At 1,352 feet, the Bell Street Bridge is one of the longest of its kind in Montana, representing a significant engineering accomplishment and an essential part of the area’s commercial development.

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598 West Bell Street, Glendive, Montana ~ Public