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Scotts Bluff, Nebraska

Henry State Aid Bridges

Henry State Aid Bridges
One of the Henry State Aid Bridges
National Park Service

The two Henry State Aid Bridges are among the last of the original 17 multiple-span concrete arch bridges designed and built by the Nebraska State Engineer’s Office under the State Aid Bridge program. They span two channels of the North Platte River in rural Scotts Bluff County in a setting that has seen little change since their construction. 

The Nebraska Legislature passed the State Aid Bridge Act in 1911 to assist with bridge construction across the State's larger streams. The act established a fund whereby the State and county each paid half of a bridge's cost. In 1916, the Scotts Bluff County Commissioners applied for State aid for the construction of two bridges over the North Platte River at the town of Henry. Voters approved a bond to fund the county’s share of the project.  With the assurance of State funding, the State Engineer's Office completed the design for the bridges by 1919. Erected as two series of concrete arches, and widened by cantilevering in 1959, both bridges are still in use today.  Although the total cost of the two bridges totaled over $80,000, the share the State funded, at less than $8,000, fell inexplicably short of the promised 50% match. Of the 17 multiple-span concrete arch bridges built between the inception of the State Aid Bridge program in 1911 and its phase out in 1936, only six remain, including the two Henry State Aid Bridges.

The State Aid Bridge Fund got its financing from a property tax. The fund provided a 50% State subsidy to build and later also to purchase and move county bridges that spanned streams that were at least 175 feet, later reduced to 100 feet, in width.  The money eased the distrust counties had about State interference in local affairs, and the program became very popular. The State last appropriated money into the fund in 1933 and closed the fund in 1936 after it assisted in the construction or purchase of 97 bridges in 80 locations. The State engineer emphasized the importance of the fund when he stated that “this law has done more than any other to stimulate the interest of counties in the building of permanent bridges, and sets an excellent example of the form of bridge construction in this State.”  Most of the bridges were along the Platte River and its north and south branches.

Plan your visit

The two Henry State Aid Bridges are located south of NE 26 on Holloway Rd. over the North Platte River, 0.6 mile south of Henry, NE.

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