By G. R. Evans
to a graceful 19th Century
engineering design and construction, the Clements
Stone Arch Bridge. This web site will show you that
the bridge deserves and needs careful preservation. The cost of
preservation can be more than compensated for by the economic
development benefits of tourism.
Each of the two arches in the image above spans 19.6 m (63.5 ft). The center pier is 2.34 m (7.7 ft) wide at its narrowest point. The total length of the stone work balusters along the approaches and over the arches is 76.5 m (251 ft).
The bridge location, in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas, near the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, spans the Cottonwood River in Chase County, Kansas, near the always tiny, but now completely gone town of Clements.
web site has been posted to do
a number of things:
bridge does not lack notice! In
1976 it achieved
listing on the National Register of Historic Places,
ninety year after its construction and while it still
carried traffic. There are a number of public agencies
(see links below) and other interested parties aware of the
bridge and its historic significance.
Public agency links:
The bridge even received a small notice in William Least Heat-Moon's book, PrairyErth, an extraordinary study of Chase County's history, places, and people, published in 1991.
And, on the occasion of its 100th anniversary the local newspaper, the Chase County Leader-News, and the Wichita Eagle-Beacon carried appreciative and informative stories on the history of the bridge.
in spite of its national as
well as local notice,
the bridge has some problems. There are four kinds:
plan has been prepared to guide
needed to make the bridge attractive and accessible to
visitors for years to come.
First: restore the bridge's design integrity. Some of this task has been completed. It was necessary to return the stones to their original positions: to accomplish this we needed to determine which stones have been moved, or lost, then sort out where each misplaced stone belongs, so that the art of the structure is again visible. The result: a very large, three dimensional stone puzzle, with the pieces weighing well over a ton. Phase 1 of the restoration plan addresses this remedy.
Second: present the bridge to the public so that anyone can come, see, and appreciate this marvelous and unique artifact in the heart of the tall grass prairie ecosystem. Phase 2 of the restoration plan will attempt to improve access.
Third: examine the structural integrity of the bridge and repair any structural defects in the stone work, returning it to its original strength. Phase 3, somewhat sketchy at this point, deals with long-term strength and stability of the bridge.
part of the remedies can be
accomplished without resources, both human and financial, volunteer and
professional. Financial resources are available from both federal and
The U.S. Department of Transportation has a program, Transportation Enhancement, which funds 80 percent of the cost of repairing, rehabilitating, repurposing, etc., obsolete transportation facilities such as the Clements Bridge.
There are two catches:
1. The 20 percent not covered by the federal program needs to come from private or local government sources.
2. The application for the federal funds requires an engineering plan detailing the specific actions to be undertaken and, of course, a careful estimate of the cost. The catch is that the engineering plan is not eligible for funding from the federal program.
The Kansas State Historical Society administers the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund which will fund engineering plans for rehabilitating historic structures. It has only one catch: it also funds only 80 percent of the cost, with 20 percent from private or local government sources.
The strategy being employed is to apply for the Heritage Trust support, $24,000 state plus $6,000 private, to fund the engineering plan. With the engineering plan completed, it can be incorporated in the application for Transportation Enhancement program support for the actual, physical rehabilitation of the bridge.
you have an interest in any
subject related to this
bridge please contact the e-mail address below and
share your observations and comments. Most urgent of all, at this
the need for $6,000 to cover 20 percent of the cost of the
contributions (a tax
deductible check) to CCCF/Clements Bridge
Fund can be mailed to:
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