I can’t count how many times I’ve traveled across M-55 to get to Manistee County from the east side of the state. What I recently learned is that right before the village of Wellston, you will cross one of Michigan’s rarest truss bridges. The Cooley Bridge is an impressive structure, and is among Michigan’s rarest truss bridge types. It is highly attractive with most beams on the bridge being built-up with v-lacing and/or lattice. After stopping off I found that there is a stairway that leads down beside the bridge you can see the bridge in all its glory. With so many Michigan bridges falling apart, the fact that the bridge is well-maintained and preserved is evidence that the bridge continues to be respected as a Michigan historic landmark and attraction.
Here is a little history lesson for you. In 1935 the bridge won the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Class C award for Most Beautiful Bridge, a noteworthy accomplishment, since AISC’s awards are given only to a small number of bridges nationwide each year. You can still see this plaque on the bridge today.
Please, on your next trip through Manistee County, be sure to stop and experience the beautiful architecture “below” your feet when crossing the Cooley Bridge. I know I loved it and I’m sure you will too!