Bridge Construction Reveals Dam Built in Stony Creek 110 Years Ago
To the traveler speeding past, if he notices them at all, they appear only as part of the usual construction equipment and debris found at such a project.
To the historically minded person in Monroe County, however, they are a connecting link to the romantic past, when homesteads were being carved from the wilderness and family fortunes were being founded.
Logs Buried 110 Years
These old logs were placed in the stream 110 years ago as part of a dam built by Edward Loranger for his grist and saw mills. Henry Ford now has the mills at his Dearborn estate but a modern successor to the saw mill still is in operation a short distance east of the original site.
Only part of the dam remained when Meredith and Haynes contractors, started work on the new highway bridge this winter. Contract requirements included the ridding of the creek of obstructions, and so out cam the logs.
The process revealed the painstaking and secure engineering methods by which the nine-foot dam was constructed.
Anchored to Bed Rock
It was anchored firmly to bedrock, which is reached at a shallow depth. The way in which it was done was simplicity itself, but so effective as to withstand ice, storms and floods, for more than a century.
By chipping and pounding holes were made in the rock which would hold a log upright, in a fairly close fit. Then an iron wedge was started in the bottom of the log and log and wedge were placed in one of the holes and pounded down.
As it was forced down upon the wedge, the log split and formed a “ball” at the end which pressed tightly against the rock sides of the hole in which it was placed.
From upright logs placed in the rock in this manner, other logs were run at an angle into the stream and last of all the framework was filled in with rock and earth.
A Trade with Mr. Ford
The logs taken out by the bridge contractors are of red oak and white oak and are as sound apparently as the day they were buried in the dam more than one hundred years ago.
An interested spectator while the creek channel was being cleared and deepened was Charles Lamerand who traded the old Loranger mills to Henry Ford six years ago. He got in exchange a modern waterpower mill which is better suited to his business of custom sawing of logs. Mr. Lamerand was taken into the family of Joel Loranger, a son of the pioneer, when he was 5 years old.
The grist mill was of that old fashioned type which consisted of two huge stones between which grain was ground as they turned slowly. Mr. Lamerand has been given a sack of flour produced by the mill after Mr. Ford had had it set up in Dearborn.
Saw Moved Up and Down
Equally antiquated was the saw mill. Instead of the whirling saw usually used today, a vertical saw worked up and down in a wooden frame keyed together without pins, nails, screws or bolts.
It was Mr. Lamerand who figured out, for the bridge builders, the time the old oak logs lay in the Loranger dam. He recalled the fact that Mr. Loranger was a mason and that he came clear from Montreal to work on St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Steel Girders in Place
Heavy steel work is now in place. It consists of 30 girders in two spans 50 feet long, which together with connecting members weight 50 tons.
By the last of this week or the first of next, pouring of the concrete deck, six and half inches thick and heavily reinforced with steel rods, will be started. Upon this deck will be laid the wearing surface.
The bridge will have a roadway 60 feet wide as well as a six-foot sidewalk at either side.
The construction limit date is July 15, but G.H. Haynes, senior member of the contracting firm, believes that it will be finished by the end of June.
Approaches for the bridge, to connect with the Telegraph Road and Dixie Highway, are not a part of the bridge contract.