On the way home from my recent trip to Jamestown, we decided to jump off I-94 at Valley City, N.D. in search of the Bramhill Dam. We had no idea that Valley City is called the City of Bridges, home to eight bridges in the county-seat town of about 6700.The dam is about 12 miles from Valley City. On our way through the town, we noticed another bridge … but we’ll come back to that. We also found a U.S. Air Force jet in the city.
Heading generally northwest, we next found the spectacular HighLine Bridge, one of the eight bridges in the Valley City area. The Highline is one of the longest and highest single track railroad bridges in the U.S. at 3,860 feet long and 162 feet above the ground. The bridge, originally on the Northern Pacific line, was built in 1908 to replace an existing low bridge that crossed the Sheyenne River and to better navigate the extreme grades of the valley. The bridge is important for freight movement through the valley. During the World Wars, the bridge was closely guarded because of its importance in moving people and supplies across the valley. In 2004, the bridge was listed as a National Civil Engineering Landmark.
We also discovered this vintage elevator …
and this homestead – home only to the animals living there.
As we traveled to the dam site, we occasionally saw these signs …
and a little train traffic.
And then we arrived at Bramhill Dam on Lake Astabula. The dam was completed in 1950, primarily as a water supply structure but also provides important flood control benefits along the Sheyenne River.
Looking northerly from the dam observation area:
Looking southerly from the dam observation area:
The views were well worth the short delay but then it was time to get back on the road (I-94, that is). But we had one stop to make – the bridge we spotted on the way through the city.
The Rainbow Bridge was the first bridge built in Valley City. The original wood bridge was built in 1879, then replaced by a steel structure in 1899. The Rainbow bridge was built in 1925-26. The design was chosen for its strength and beauty and was unique in that concrete arches carried the weight. It was one of its kind in North Dakota and one of few “Rainbow Arch” bridges still in use in the U.S. Due to deck deterioration, it was replaced in 2004, again as an arch bridge (despite the complicated design and associated costs).
And so ends our short tour of Valley City. We’ll need to plan a return visit to explore the other six bridges.
Thanks for reading.