Preservation Cascade, Inc.

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

Bridge Updates

Illuminating the arches of the bridge

A pedestrian tunnel was built through the abutment of the historic 10th street bridge. A grant from Fish, Wildlife and Parks provided funds to connect the north side of the bridge to the popular River's Edge Trail. Additional plans are being developed to complete a plaza and railings above the tunnel.

The Montana Cultural Trust awarded Preservation Cascade, Inc. a grant to purchase benches and planters for the completed model arch of the historic bridge. Plants and flowers appropriate to the various seasons will beautify the bridge.

One of the ongoing goals related to restoring the historic bridge to its former elegance has been to remove the unsightly and abandoned utility lines hanging from the superstructure of the bridge; That goal was realized during the winter of 2006-2007. Steel, Etc., a Great Falls firm, worked for several weeks and the lines have now been safely removed. There were not any outstanding costs associated with the removal as the salvage value of the copper and metal utility lines compensated the contractor.

A competitive grant was received from the Community Transportation Enhancement Program to illuminate the graceful arches of the bridge. Bob Daniels, nationally known lighting designer, in association with Gordon, Prill, Drapes Engineering, completed the plan. Liberty Electric, Inc. of Great Falls was awarded the contract in July 2007. Preservation Cascade, Inc. had a lighting ceremony when the work was done.

A lot of water has flowed under the Historic Tenth Street Bridge across the Missouri River in Great Falls, Montana since it was threatened with demolition in 1994. Through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who value historical and beautiful structures, the Bridge was saved as a pedestrian urban parkway. As a result of this success, several bridges in Montana have now been saved from destruction, including the graceful old bridge across the Missouri River in Wolf Point. The Montana Department of Transportation now has a policy to allow preservationists a chance to "adopt" bridges.

The Tenth Street Bridge has received many honors, including a Montana Preservation Award, a Cascade County Historical Award, recognition by the National Society of Industrial Archeology and the Montana Preservation Alliance. Bill Tamietti, the contractor who completed the restoration thus far, and Lee Ebeling, P.E. the engineer from Lacy & Ebeling Engineering, Inc. were honored by the Montana State Contractors Association for the best historic restoration in the state in 2003. City and County Magazine which is distributed throughout the USA also featured the Bridge, as did Preservation Magazine, Civil Engineering News and Bridge Builders Magazine. The Great Falls Tribune has donated thousands of dollars in free advertising for our fund-raising events, and has featured the photogenic Bridge in many articles.

PRESERVATION CASCADE, INC. (PCI) sponsored a Historic Bridge Conference which attracted engineers from all over the country. They unanimously agreed that the restored Bridge, which is the longest (1130 feet) concrete arched bridge in all the Great Plains States, would be a real asset to Montana. It is a symbol of our heritage that is rapidly being lost in the name of progress. Many teachers and students who attended the Conference were interested in the educational value of the Bridge. They expressed a desire to utilize the restored Bridge as a site for field trips and for history and nature studies.

PCI has sponsored many fund-raisers including barn dances, a Roaring 20's party, auctions, sales at the weekly Farmers' Market, a play about Western artist Charlie Russell, luncheons featuring Iditarod Mushers, and Mystery Dinner Theatre. At two events, the highly regarded Canadian artist Graham Flatt donated original watercolors with all proceeds contributed to the Historic Bridge Fund.

In recent years, there has been considerable progress on the Historic Bridge Restoration. All the major arches and the smaller spandrel arches have been repaired. In addition, a $250,000 "Save America's Treasures" grant from the National Park Service, along with matching funds from supporters of PCI, resulted in the completion of one fully restored "model arch". Thus far, a total of $981,181 has been spent, including the $400,000 that would have been used for demolition.

In 2003, the "model arch" was opened to the public for a gala celebration. An enthusiastic crowd of nearly 1000 revelers enjoyed an historic ceremony honoring the past and current bridge builders. There was an opportunity to ask questions about future plans, and to view a display of the proposed plaza and connection to the River's Edge Trail on the north side of the river. Over thirty musicians donated their talents and represented every era since the Bridge was built, including labor songs, folk songs, ragtime, jazz and "big band", as well as 50's classics and contemporary rock and roll. A "Readers' Theatre" of historical vignettes covered news of the entire year of 1920. Adding to the festive air were antique cars, costumes, children's old-fashioned games, a clown, one-man band and a magician. Free ice cream and other goodies donated by local merchants were a big attraction. The success of this Labor Day Celebration proves that the Bridge can be an attractive venue for community events. When the entire Bridge is restored, it will be a popular place for many occasions.

We hope to restore much of the Historic Bridge to its original grandeur. The Tenth Street Bridge over the Missouri River will ultimately be transformed into its new life as an elegant portal to Great Falls, a focal point for community and tourist activities, and a tangible symbol of pride for the entire state of Montana.

We would greatly appreciate any financial help pontists (bridge-lovers) and history buffs can donate to our cause. Please see Donor Page.

If you are interested in learning more or contributing to this effort, please email us at or phone us at 406-452-5492.