On this date in 1921, the Bismarck American Legion sponsored a resolution to dedicate a new Bismarck-Mandan bridge to World War I veterans. The bridge, which was under construction, was the final coast-to-coast link of US Highway 10 and would to be the first to span the Missouri River for automobile use.
The text of the American Legion resolution read:
WHEREAS: The bridge across the Missouri River uniting the two halves of North Dakota will soon be completed and that,
WHEREAS: Thousands of tourists will pass over this bridge every year; be it
RESOLVED: The Lloyd Spetz Post No. 1, Department of North Dakota of the American Legion, requests the North Dakota Highway Commission and the Commissioners of Burleigh and Morton Counties to name this structure the “North Dakota Memorial Bridge” and to dedicate it to the memory of those who served in the Army, Navy and Marine corps of the United States in the World War, and that suitable markers or tablets so designating be placed on the structure to that those passing through our state and our own citizens may be reminded through the years to come of the sacrifices made and the results achieved by the sons and daughters of the state.
A design for the three-span, Warren-Turne,r through-truss bridge began in 1919, and construction began in 1920. According to the Department of Transportation, the total cost was $1,375,000, and the bridge was to be the longest in the state.
After a year and a half, the structure was completed, and was christened Liberty Memorial Bridge, as requested by the American Legion.
A crowd of 12,000 gathered for the dedication on September 18, 1922 – the city of Bismarck’s 50th anniversary. Townspeople celebrated with three days of parades, music and dances, and a pageant was presented by the Thurston Management Company of Minneapolis.
For the first time, people were able to cross the Missouri without the aid of trains or ferries. However, travelers weren’t the only ones to benefit from the new structure; the bridge also allowed for faster, easier and cheaper transport of livestock and agricultural products.
Construction is now underway to replace the historic crossing with a modern and more efficient bridge. When the new structure is complete, the original Liberty Memorial Bridge will be demolished. Efforts to preserve the history of the original are underway.
By Merry Helm
North Dakota Department of Transportation.
Bismarck Tribune. May 14, 1921.