March 27, 2024


Have you ever taken the time to view the beautiful bridges we have here in Custer County? Have you ever considered why or when these architectural landmarks came to life? Let’s take a closer look at some of our most well-known bridges in the area.

Beaver Creek Bridge

This deck arch bridge built in 1929 of concrete and steel is 225 feet long and sits 115 feet above the canyon floor located in Wind Cave National Park. This is the largest and most complex reinforced concrete bridge of its size in the state. It also is South Dakota’s only surviving open-spandrel concrete bridge. It is also only one of three "most significant bridges" in the Rocky Mountain region of the National Park System. Construction of this bridge was made possible through the efforts of Peter Norbeck, U.S. Senator from South Dakota. Senator Norbeck was also involved with developing Custer State Park and scenic highways within the Black Hills.

Pig Tail Bridge

The bridge is 160 feet long and 20 feet wide. It was built in 1930 to help develop South Dakota Highway 87 located in Wind Cave National Park, also known as a spiral bridge. It was constructed by the South Dakota Department of Transportation.




Pigtail Bridges








Many thought it couldn’t be done, but Cecil Clyde Gideon forged ahead with the design of the Pigtail Bridges in 1932. Gideon and Senator Norbeck laid out the Iron Mountain Road, the tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore, and the bridges. Norbeck’s rustic vision had complex engineering problems with bridge surfaces that were neither straight, level nor flat. The logs used were selected from nearby, cut to fit, seasoned and then put in place. Gideon’s vision became a reality and people were able to enjoy even more of the Black Hills scenic beauty.

 French Creek Bridge

The largest stone double-arched bridge replaced a timber bridge south of Blue Bell Lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1936-39 in the Custer State Park.






Stockade Lake Bridge

Originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in April 1937 the South Dakota National Guard Completed the bridge in August 1988. This bridge is 76 feet, 4 inches long, and 26 feet wide over 30 feet above the spillway by two supports. Stockade Lake Bridge is constructed of Douglas fir and can withstand loads up to 100 tons.





We even had a bridge right here in Custer! In the 1940s, Highway 16 went underneath the old railroad tracks (current Mickelson Trail), and in later years, the train bridge was dismantled and then that area was filled in and leveled out.

Mickelson Trail Bridge.

Next time you take a drive, not only through the Black Hills, and come across a bridge. Take a moment, look at the details of that amazing landmark, and appreciate it, as most bridges are a work of art!

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