Bridges are small North Dakota town’s claim to fame.
While not as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge or as famous as the Brooklyn Bridge, the eight graceful bridges in Valley City are definitely special in their own right.
Known as “The City of Bridges,” Valley City straddles the meandering Sheyenne River, which is why the small town has so many bridges. Several of them are one-of-a-kind historic structures.
Take the Highline Bridge, for example. At 162 feet high and 3,860 feet long, it’s one of the highest and longest single-track railroad bridges in the United States.
Completed in 1908, the bridge was built so trains wouldn’t have to travel up and down the severe grades leading in and out of the valley. During World Wars I and II, it was closely guarded by the military because it was so important to moving supplies and soldiers across the country.
Another unique bridge is the ornate Valley City State University footbridge (shown here), which links the school to the rest of the city. Built in 1901, the ornate 150-foot-long suspension bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only bridge of its kind in the state.
Two other bridges are on the National Register, too. The West City Park Bridge, built in 1929, leads to a 9-1/4-acre park for which the bridge is named.
Then there’s the graceful Rainbow Bridge, the only concrete arch bridge in North Dakota and one of a handful of concrete-arch bridges still in use nationwide. Completed in 1926, it stands on the site of the first bridge built in Valley City, a wooden structure called the East Main Bridge.
Other bridges include the City Park Footbridge, the Mill Dam Bridge, the Hospital Bridge and the Maryvale Bridge. The Chamber of Commerce office (250 W. Main St.) has maps that show each bridge’s location, and markers by each bridge provide details about their history.
There’s a fun way to see the bridges-take an easy 6-1/4-mile-long walking tour that crosses all but the Hi-Line Bridge. This wheelchair- and stroller-friendly route is a nice way to see the downtown’s historic buildings, too.
If you get hungry, Another Time (at the corner of Fifth and Main Street) is a great place to stop for lunch. They make their own soups and breads. The food is good and reasonably priced.
Complete your walking tour with a stop at the interesting Medicine Wheel, a Stonehenge-like solar calendar built from rocks and boulders by Valley City State University astronomy students. It resembles similar monuments found in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of both the United States and Canada.
The Medicine Wheel is located on the south end of town, next to Granger Hill, which features Indian burial mounds-and a great 360-degree panoramic view of the valley.
Come see why this town preserves its bridges of the past!
Valley City is just north of I-94 in southeast North Dakota, about 60 miles west of Fargo. For more information, visit www.hellovalley.com.
Interested in camping nearby? Check out KOA campgrounds in North Dakota.