I’ve had the urge to get out and explore more lately. Particularly old, abandoned and historic things and places. As a little kid, my Grandfather (Big Wade) and I would take off on random adventures or drives, often times with no particular destination.
Looking at some maps and stumbling around the interweb, I came across the Mariposa Bridge and the nearby Alba Mill, formerly known as the Mariposa Mill. The history behind the Mariposa Bridge (posted below) is pretty cool.
I wasn’t out there long before an old guy came walking through the woods. It was creepy and cool. He looked like an old school Sheriff with a gun on his hip. I introduced myself. His name was Billy Branton and he has lived in the area since the early 60s. He owned/operated Billy Branton’s Garage before retiring a few years ago. He shared some cool stories about the bridge and the surrounding area.
The leafless trees and vines, along with the melting snow, made for some cool photos. It would be neat to go back in the spring or summer when everything is grown in.
The Mariposa Road Bridge is situated on State Road 1734 (Old Mariposa Road) over Leeper’s Creek, 500 feet north of the junction of State Road 1412, in the former Mariposa Community in southeastern Lincoln County, NC. The remains of the Mariposa Mill, later Alba Mill, are located 250 feet southeast of the bridge. The Mariposa Road Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1979, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation donated the bridge in 1995 to the Lincoln County Historical Association who, subsequently, donated it to the Lincoln County Historic Properties Commission. NC DOT documented the bridge in 1979 to satisfy a Memorandum of Agreement during the mitigation process as the bridge was slated for demolition. A modern bridge, built in 1979, is located to the south of the Mariposa Road Bridge on Leepers Creek’s downstream alignment.
The Mariposa Road Bridge is a one lane, three-span, steel pin-connected Pratt thru truss bridge that maintains an overall span of 181 feet. The main span measures 120 feet and is flanked by steel stringer approach spans measuring thirty-five feet and twenty-five feet in length. The bridge’s truss includes eye bar tension members (lower chords and diagonals) and riveted built-up compression members (upper chords, verticals, inclined end posts) of steel sections of channels and angles with battens, and cover plates or lacings. The bridge is composed of A-frame portals of angles and back-to-back angles that make up the upper lateral struts. The bridge’s floor was constructed with rolled floorbeams that stand suspended by U-shaped hangers from lower chord pins. All of the bridge’s original components remain intact, with the exception of the original railings. Contemporary beam guide rails, added in 1976, are attached to the truss’s roadway faces and are braced by transverse beams underneath the bridge’s decking. Currently, the bridge boasts a paved asphalt floor. Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers, Inc. conducted a Historic Bridge Inventory Report for the North Carolina Department of Transportation June of 2003, and identified thirty-four Pratt truss bridges dating from 1891 to 1954, including twenty pony trusses, in North Carolina.
George Fore inventoried the Mariposa Road Bridge in 1939 for the Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, and Paul Hawke, Historian for the National Park Service’s Southeast Region, edited the report for the Historic American Engineering Record in 1986. The report outlines the bridge’s significance as the earliest example to exhibit rolled sections in its truss system.
Captain Joseph Graham Morrison began production at the Mariposa Mill in 1902, and assigned it the name “Mariposa” after a visit to Mariposa, California when he decided it was an appropriate name for his textile venture. Captain Morrison was a brother of Anna Morrison who married Thomas Johnathan “Stonewall” Jackson in Lincoln County on July 16, 1857. The Mariposa Cotton Mills was incorporated on September 19, 1911 to “manufacture yarns, cloths of all kinds, and textile fabrics from cotton, wool, silk, flax, hemp or other fibre.” The stockholders included A.D. Morrison of Atlanta, Georgia; Mrs. Jennie Morrison of Stanley, NC; Mrs. Mary G. Raynall of Statesville, NC; Mrs. Anna Wilson and Ronald Wilson of Brevard, NC; and Robert H. Morrison and J.G. Morrison of Stanley, NC. Joseph G. Morrison secured the machinery for Mariposa Mill from the Mountain Island Mill in Gaston County, North Carolina. Members of the Mariposa Mill Village utilized the bridge during the height of the mill’s production.
The Owego Bridge Company of New York, New York erected the Mariposa Road Bridge 1912 over Leepers Creek in eastern Lincoln County. Leepers Creek flows through northeastern Lincoln County and is formed by the junction of Sawmill and Lippard creeks, travels in a southeastern course into Gaston County where it meets Killians to from Dutchmans Creek. The Owego Bridge Company was established in New York during the last decade of the nineteenth century, and specialized in truss highway bridges. They fabricated truss highway bridges throughout the eastern United States, but concentrated most of their business in New York and neighboring states. The company extended their business into the southern United States before their discontinued their business in 1917.
The Mariposa Road Bridge possesses special architectural and engineering significance in terms of Lincolnton, Lincoln County, and North Carolina and meets the following criterion of the National Register of Historic Places: CRITERION A: The Mariposa Road Bridge is a unique remnant of an earliest twentieth century bridge type that was prevalent in the United States from the 1890s to the first decade of the twentieth century; CRITERION C 1) The Mariposa Road Bridge has local significance as the only remaining Pratt thru truss bridge that survives in Lincolnton and Lincoln County, and is the earliest extant bridge in Lincoln County; 2) The Owego Bridge Company of New York, New York, fabricator of the Mariposa Road Bridge, was a prolific builder of standard truss and girder-floorbeam bridges in the eastern United States for the highway and railroad markets from the early 1890s to 1917.