Preservation Cascade, Inc.

The Historic 10th Street Bridge over the Missouri River.
Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana.


Reichert Honored for Bridge Preservation Project

Arlyne Reichert, known to many as the “Bridge Lady,” is the recipient of a 2022 Heritage Keeper award for her contributions to the study and preservation of Montana’s past.

Reichert said, "It's very important. If we don't preserve what we have in the past, we don't have any future. We look like every city in the country, and things like architecture design, they're unique, and so I feel it's very important that we save our history."

Reichert was selected for the annual award by the Montana Historical Society's Board of Trustees. She was honored in Great Falls during a ceremony at the Mansfield Convention Center on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, for her work in preserving the Tenth Street Bridge. It is Montana’s longest and oldest open-spandrel, ribbed-concrete arch bridge.

Her work to save the bridge began in 1996 when the city built the Eagle Falls Bridge across the Missouri River and closed the Tenth Street Bridge, slating it for demolition.

Reichert created the nonprofit Preservation Cascade to raise money and guide efforts to save and restore the bridge.

“In 1996, when we first heard about it being torn down, quite a few people became backers and proponents of saving it,” she explained. “We realized that we had to have a non-profit organization that could help raise funds to save the bridge, so that was the inspiration. Preservation Cascade had about 90 people sign a petition, and it became very popular early on. Now today we have thousands, thousands of supporters.

Preservation Cascade has raised more than $1 million to restore the bridge as a pedestrian/bike pathway.

10th Street Bridge Renamed to Honor Arylyne Reichet

A woman known as the “Bridge Lady” has shown Great Falls what heart, dedication, and the power of one person who believes in something is capable of - that woman is Arlyne Reichert

Reichert has fought for the 10th Street Bridge for many years. A proposal to rename the bridge to a more fitting name - the Arlyne Reichert Community Heritage bridge (ARCH for short) was met and passed in a matter of minutes at recent City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Mary Moe, who was the driving force behind the renaming, says that anytime she brought up the idea, she met with support. “It wasn’t just a one-shot thing where Arlyne did this one great thing, her history in Great Falls and frankly in Montana and now nationally, is one of a person who really believes in the powers of individual people to make this government better, their communities better, our nation better.”

Commissioner Rick Tyron noted, “If you look up the definition of a great citizen in the dictionary, Arlyne’s picture would be right there.”

By KRTV Reporter Cade Menter - June 2, 2022

(DECEMBER 6, 2019) Arlyne Reichert is on a mission to preserve the 10th Street Bridge in Great Falls. Reichert is the president of Preservation Cascade, an organization that, after saving the 10th Street Bridge, is now on a mission to restore and improve it.

For some people, it's just another bridge - you can’t cross it, and you can't walk very far onto it. It wasn’t always like this, however. The bridge used to be the only way for both vehicles and pedestrians to cross the Missouri River.

When the new 9th Street Bridge was built a few feet to the West, city officials decided to demolish the old bridge, and Arlyne and the members and supporters of Preservation Cascade decided to take a stand,

“In 1996, when we first heard about it being torn down, quite a few people became backers and proponents of saving it,” she explained. “We realized that we had to have a non-profit organization that could help raise funds to save the bridge, so that was the inspiration. Preservation Cascade had about 90 people sign a petition, and it became very popular early on. Now today we have thousands, thousands of supporters.

The city, the state, and the country all offer historic preservation grants to organizations working to save or refurbish historic landmarks. Preservation Cascade was lucky enough to receive one of the national grants, for around $250,000.

“We learned that we had to write grant applications because there are all kinds of foundations and groups that set aside money for historic preservation, but it doesn’t just happen,” she said. “Applications have to be laboriously prepared, it is not easy, but we've written many grant applications. We’ve had grants, from small grants, 1,000 to 5,000, to one grant we received for a quarter of a million dollars. It was labor intensive, but that was going to go to a historic preservation group in the county, and we were lucky enough to get that.”

At a City Commission meeting on Tuesday, the board approved a contract between the city, which owns the bridge, and Dave Kuglin Construction to continue an ongoing but currently paused project to make the bridge safer for pedestrians.

“We were told we’d need about $200,000, the first bid came in at $700,000, but Mr. Kuglin came in with a bid of $350,000, and what he said is he’ll go as far as he can with the money we have on hand, and as we raise the money, he’ll do more and more,” Arlyne said. “But, the city is not going to come up with the balance. Nobody is coming up with the balance except Preservation Cascade.”

The goal is to have that project finished and the entire bridge re-opened to the public by August of 2020, a month that marks a very special event.

“August 20th is an important date, that’s when the bridge is 100 years old,” Reichert said with a smile. “We’ve already planned the party, we may just have to have it on the model arch if we haven’t put the fencing to go all the way across. In any case, the bridge is going to be celebrated on August 20th, 2020, it’ll be 100 years old, even older than I am. It’s going to happen then, one way or another.”

At age 94 years, Reichert says that the secret to her longevity is that she’s in love. Not with a man or a person at all - but with the bridge.

By KRTV Reporter Lindsey Stenger - Sept 11, 2021

By Paula Wilmot / Tribune Staff Writer

Long treasured by Great Falls resident Arlyne Reichert, the 10th Street Bridge is pictured and described in poetic prose in a new coffee table book by the National Geographic, titled "Saving America's Treasures".

The only Montana entry and the only bridge in the book, the 79-year-old bridge is in elite company of 49 other "treasures" that the National Trust for Historic Preservation considers worth saving. Among them are George Washington's winter encampment at Valley Forge, Babe Ruth's scrapbooks, Thomas Edison's invention factory, the Ellis Island Ferry Building and escaped slave leader Harriet Tubman's residence.

"Our bridge is on a very prestigious list," Reichert said. "We're honored," she said on behalf of the Preservation Cascade Inc. group that has been raising money to restore the bridge, which also is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other treasures singled out from hundreds of nominees include original papers of the founding fathers, silent movies, a barn in Illinois, a Victorian yacht and 77 lighthouses in Michigan. All are called "fragile" or "deteriorating" and in need of repairs and restoration. That's the reason for the list and the book.

"All of these things have been in jeopardy", Reichert said, "just like our bridge". In the mid-1990's, after a new bridge was constucted over the Missouri River at 9th Street, the historic arched bridge was marked for demolition and, in fact, was saved from the wrecking ball with just six days to spare.

Reichert and her group of save-the-bridge advocates intervened and convinced the city to give them a chance to raise money to restore the bridge as a pedestrian walkway. The Montana Department of Transportation assisted by giving the city the $400,000 that was to have been spent to demolish the bridge, and Preservation Cascade took on the task of raising $300,000 more by 2003. Already $500,000 worth of repairs to the bridge understructure have been done.

"We still have a ways to go, but things seem to be looking up," Reichert said. She figures the national exposure in the book will help, too.

The author of the text about the bridge for the book, describes the bridge's picturesque arches as "skipping across the water like a flat stone flung by a small boy."

The article concludes: "It's just like Joni Mitchell says in the song Big Yellow Taxi: "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." Happily, the people of Great Falls woke up in time, and they've still got it."

Convincing Great Falls to wake up has been tough, according to Reichert. "It has been financially draining and energy draining," she said. "They call me the Bridge Lady, but there's really a 'Bridge Army' out there."

By Phil Drake Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer

COVID Fears force bridge celebration, luminaria walk to pause