Barton County Commission Chairman Homer Kruckenberg turned to Pulitzer Prize winning poet Carl Sandburg to address the proposed loss of one of the eight historic stone bridges in northern Barton County.
“Carl Sandburg said, a few masterpieces are enough,” Kruckenberg suggested.
The commission approved plans to remove the stone bridge and replace it with a modern concrete structure that can carry heavy business and agriculture traffic.
While it won’t be the same, those who have appreciated the history and beauty of one of the two double arch stone bridges in northern Barton County can take solace in the plans for the materials, as that bridge is torn down.
County Engineer Clark Rusco explained this week that he’s going to make sure that materials from the bridge are kept for reuse in other bridge repair projects in the northern part of the county.
Rusco explained the plans are for the building materials to be reused in other bridges, including in the other double arch stone bridge, which is just a couple miles away from the one that will be replaced.
The county engineer explained that some of the detail pieces that are missing from the bridge that will be repaired can be salvaged from the one that will be replaced with a modern, safer concrete bridge.
“Safety is certainly a ... factor,” County Administrator Richard Boeckman commented.
Commissioner Jennifer Schartz suggested that the bridge that is to be replaced be documented with photographs and that any carved stones that are singular to this bridge, be saved and donated to the Barton County Historical Society so the bridge can be documented.
Earlier, Boeckman explained the county had sought historic status for the WPA Project bridges in the northern part of the county a few years ago when it appeared there could be grant money available to help fund the preservation of the aging stone structures.
The county got the historic status, but not the money.
While most of the stone structures are in locations where they do not present a problem, one of the two double arch bridges carries a great deal of farm and oil traffic and it is unsafe.
Not only that, but those familiar with the structure noted that it isn’t even safe for a tourist attraction.
Commissioner Kenny Shremmer noted that the location of the double arch stone bridge in question is situated so that visibility is not great because of a series of hills, and the road doesn’t allow the stone work to be easily seen without drivers getting out of their vehicles. That means that if someone wanted to see the bridge, they would have to stop in traffic, get out and try to climb down a steep embankment. Meanwhile, their vehicle would be sitting in an unsafe spot in a busy township road.