Bridges have played a significant role in building our country and our state. They have made it possible for supplies and people to cross rivers and gorges to create farms, communities, businesses, and the culture of Montana as we know it.
The truss bridge near Toston is no exception. November is Historic Bridge Awareness Month and a great time to learn and honor this important Montana structure.
Architecturally, the old Toston Bridge is classified as a steel, three-span riveted Warren through truss bridge, sitting on reinforced concrete abutments and two reinforced concrete piers. The bridge is 525 feet long with each of the three trusses spanning 175 feet. It crosses the Missouri River just outside of Toston on an abandoned segment of old U.S. 287.
It was constructed in 1919-1920 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. A bronze dedication plate on the top of the bridge reads “1920 Security Bridge Company.”
The design was developed by Montana State Highway Commission bridge engineers in 1915, and the Toston Bridge is a perfect example of this design, which was used for more than two decades in this state. According to Broadwater County records, the cost of the project was just less than $71,000.
Other than occasional replacement of the timber deck, the bridge is unchanged from its original construction. It retains all its essential elements of design, workmanship, and materials. It is still an important crossing point over the Missouri River, just as it was 100 years ago.
The Montana Department of Transportation is currently upgrading U.S. 287 near Toston, including the bridge structures just to the south of the old Toston truss bridge. The project includes construction of 3.5 miles of new roadway, two new bridges (over the Missouri River and Montana Rail Link tracks), a tunnel for pedestrians, a school bus turnout (off Radersburg Road), installation of wildlife fencing, and intersection improvements. The old Toston Bridge will not be impacted by this project, continuing to stand as a historic example of Montana’s past as MDT also moves into the future.
To stay up to date on the Toston Structures project, visit https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/tostonstructures/. For more information about the historic Toston Bridge, please contact Becky Bey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406.247.2907.