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Family Photographs  - 1865 - 2017
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My grandfather Frank Severin Erickson (3rd from the left) in 1920 during construction of the Liberty Memorial Bridge that would inevitably span the Missouri River between the cities of Mandan and Bismarck, North Dakota. He stands with the architect of the bridge and other officials and crew members.

Construction began on the Liberty Memorial Bridge in 1920. The bridge, the highways leading to the bridge from Bismarck and Mandan, was a $1.4 million project. The Liberty Memorial Bridge was the first automotive bridge to span the Missouri River in North Dakota.

Located on the US Hwy 10 route, the bridge was dedicated in 1922 to the young men and women who served in World War I. Appropriately inscribed boulders, taken from North Dakota prairies, were placed at both ends of the bridge by the North Dakota Chapter of the American War Mothers, who also placed the plaques honoring their sons and daughters.

The bridge lifts the heavy trusses of its spans 200 feet above the bottom of the lowest pier. Eight thousand rivets were driven into these trusses in the construction. The concrete approaches, girded on either side by North Dakota made brick, lead to the bridge; the one on the Bismarck side being 400 feet long but the Mandan side extends 625 feet. The main bridge deck and original approaches are 26 feet 6 inches feet wide supplemented by pedestrian walkways 4 feet 4 inches wide.

Here are comments from my cousins who are also the grandsons of Frank like myself and grew up in Bismarck. Their thoughts about the photograph brought up some nice recollections of the Liberty Memorial Bridge:

From Michael Boutrous:
I vividly recall our dad Floyd talking about having to ferry across the river, and in the winter they drove across the ice. He recalled the original Liberty Memorial Bridge being built in the early 1920s, and recalls the first ride he took over it, he was 5 years old he described it in detail:

"That old bridge had a metal road, like you could see through it. The bridge had a definitive 'HUM' when we crossed it in the car as a kid, then at some point, they put a proper road on it. That is my recollection of the old bridge and a change I remember occurring in it."

Mike continues:
This is the car bridge that Grandpa Frank worked on and of course, as you know, the Missouri River High Railroad Bridge, which is near and dear to our heart, with your dad, my Uncle Ernst sitting on top in that 1939 photograph and that was built in 1873.

Wow, This is an epic photo. Look at the clarity of the faces! The cotton woods in the background! The rebar - the wake of the river! Epic! and Frankie dead center, lookin like a stud!

I recall Grandpa being employed as a worker on the Bridge. My recollection is fuzzy, but this photo brought that fuzzy memory back to the surface. The Liberty Memorial Bridge, the original one here in the photos has since been demolished and a new bridge built.

From Steven Boutrous:
Interestingly, I remember Grandma Clara mentioning how cold it was working on that bridge in the dead of winter so much so that the men stuffed pillows in the seats of there overalls to protect their asses from the cold steel. There may be a photo of this, but could just be the thought ingrained in my head.

My favorite comment is from Al, short and sweet and to the point.

From Allan Boutrous:
I like the shot with the “suits” joining in for the photograph.

Exactly AL!!!


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© Mark Erickson 2018 All rights reserved.

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