Filed Under Helena

Morelli Bridge

Helena Historic District

Historic maps show that the area above Reeder’s Alley, known as Reeder’s Gulch, was long undeveloped and virtually inaccessible. The city gave in to local pressure in the early 1890s and began construction of this bridge, first known as the Howie Street Bridge. Cost of the work exceeded funds, however, and the bridge remained unfinished. When the Silver Panic of 1893 halted most building projects across the state, city commissioners recognized that completing the bridge project could provide much needed jobs. They resumed construction, putting a significant number of local laborers back to work. Finished late in 1893, the four-span timber bridge allowed residential development of the area and provided a bypass around the congested, industrial south end of Last Chance Gulch. The Jacob Adami quarry on Mount Helena supplied the stone. Swiss stonemason Carlo Morelli constructed the impressive bents, or supports, that make the bridge unusual prompting locals to rename the bridge after Morelli, whose home was nearby. Although the city replaced the timber deck in the 1980s, the Morelli Bridge is the oldest timber bridge still in use in Montana.

Images

Morelli Bridge Morelli Bridge. View of the bridge structure, facing east at the top of Reeder's Alley with the Stone House featured in the background in the photograph. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
Morelli Bridge Morelli Bridge. Overview of the bridge structure, facing west at the top of Reeder's Alley. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
Morelli Bridge Morelli Bridge. View of the bridge structure, facing west at the top of Reeder's Alley. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020
Morelli Bridge Morelli Bridge. View over the bridge structure, facing north on South Benton Avenue. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Michael Connolly Date: Jan. 2020

Location

Reeder's Alley, Helena, Montana | Public

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Morelli Bridge,” Historic Montana, accessed December 7, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/727.