Elk Falls Pratt Truss Bridge - Elk Falls, KS
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
N 37° 22.420 W 096° 11.046
14S E 749342 N 4140046
Quick Description: "On November 15, 1892, the board of Elk County Commissioners, voted to build an iron truss bridge over Elk River, connecting the dirt roads into the main thoroughfare leading into Elk Falls from the northeast" ~ Legends of America
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 3/9/2015 7:33:24 AM
Waymark Code: WMNG0G
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 0

Long Description:

County of bridge: Elk County
Location of bridge: over the Elk River at the end of Montgomery St. in Elk Falls
Bridge built: 1893
Built by: George E. KING BRIDGE CO.

"The Elk Falls Pratt Truss Bridge (c. 1892-1893) is a wrought iron, Pratt truss bridge that spans the Elk River at Lot 2 in the NE 1/4-SE 1/4, SW 1/4, SE 1/4, SE 1/4, S. 3, T. 31S, R. HE in Elk Falls Township, Elk County, Kansas. The bridge stands at the east end of Montgomery Street, just outside the Elk Falls city limits.

The Elk Falls are located just west of the bridge. These falls give the community of Elk Falls its name, and are formed by the falling of water over a projecting ledge of rock ten feet high and about one hundred feet wide.

The Pratt truss is a truss having parallel chords, vertical members in compression, and diagonal members which slant toward the center in tension. The bridge is supported by two limestone block abutments built into each bank of the river. The superstructure of the bridge measures 130* long by 16* wide, with a 66* approach span. There is an approximate drop of 30* from the deck of the bridge to the water. Wooden decking provides the roadway for the bridge.

The Elk Falls Pratt Truss Bridge was taken out of service in the mid-1970s and left to deteriorate. Efforts to preserve the bridge began in 1991, when the Friend of Elk Falls Association began a campaign to refurbish the structure. The bridge is not completely refurbished, but is open to pedestrians." ~ NRHP Nomination Form

"On November 15, 1892, the board of Elk County Commissioners, voted to build an iron truss bridge over Elk River, connecting the dirt roads into the main thoroughfare leading into Elk Falls from the northeast. Built at a cost of $2,000, it was completed in 1893. Pratt Truss Bridge, as it is called, was unique for its type since expansion joints were made from rollers, rather than wheels. The bridge still stands today and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Sometime in the late nineteenth century, the grist mill was closed and the building moved to the south side of the river and used to store hay in.

"Though the small town had two stores, two barber shops, a doctor’s office, a dentist, a drug store and a feed store, the population had begun to fall by 1927, having only 269 residents.

"When Kansas Highway 160 was built through Elk Falls in 1957, the traffic on the old steel bridge dwindled to almost nothing. And, when the Elk River experienced a dramatic flood in 1976, most of the wooden planks making up the bridge floor were taken with the turbulent waters. The old bridge was no longer feasible for repair or vehicular traffic and the Elk County Commissioners voted to condemn the bridge and closed it. However, plans to destroy the bridge were fortunately delayed and in 1983, the bridge was preserved as a foot bridge. In 1992, the bridge was made a historical site by the Kansas State Historical Society and in 1994 was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

"Today, while Elk Falls describes itself as a living ghost town, it also has to say: "We ain’t dead yet!” Not the typical tourist destination, this off the beaten path town, has done its absolute best to stay alive. This is a place where the visitor can slow down, feel the soothing tranquility of the Falls, relax, and see a bit of history without the frenzied pace of a city.

"Several years ago, an Elk Falls resident got an idea to draw tourists by calling it the world's largest living ghost town. Evidently, at the time of this idea, some of the people really appreciated it, while others weren’t so happy, preferring to remain anonymous in the dying town. However, the idea caught hold. Numerous artists and craftsmen began to converge on the dying town and within a few short years, the ghost town was drawing thousands of visitors each year.

"Though many of the artists and performers have since moved on and Elk Falls is once again making good on its "ghost town" claim, its falls are still running and an old attraction known as the Rock Garden, built in the 1930's, has been restored and is home to Elk Falls Pottery, an establishment that has been thriving for three decades." ~ Legends of America

Street address:
Off Montgomery St.,
across the Elk River
Elk Falls, KS USA

County / Borough / Parish: Elk County

Year listed: 1994

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architectural/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1875-1899

Historic function: Transportation

Current function: Transportation

Privately owned?: no

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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