Montana Department of Transportation

Property & Equipment

Historic Bridge Adoption

There are so many wonderful ways to use old historic bridges.

The Montana Department of Transportation is dedicated to preserving and interpreting sites across the state that document Montana’s exciting history. Old bridges can be found throughout the Big Sky Country, providing not only a link across rivers, but also a connection between the people who built them and those who came after.

Jon Axline’s book, Conveniences Sorely Needed: Montana’s Historic Highway Bridges 1860-1956, explores the forces that built Montana’s historic bridges and the structures’ importance to the communities they served.

Program Details

As Montana updates its transportation system, new bridges replace the old. The bridges they replace still have the structural capacity to carry bicycle and pedestrian traffic and some cars. MDT usually puts the old bridges up for adoption.

MDT will apply the estimated demolition costs for the adopted bridge towards the moving and installation costs incurred by the adopting organization, whether private or otherwise, if the organization uses the bridge as a component in a transportation corridor.

Learn more

Case Study: Preservation of the Craig Bridge

Consider adopting an historic bridge for your project. It could be cheaper than building new and would add character by having an old bridge as a component of your bicycle and pedestrian pathway. The recent Craig Bridge move is an example of a successful adoption.

Read about it


Contact MDT's Bridge Adoption Program Manager, Kent Barnes, 406-444-6260 or the MDT Historian, Jon Axline at 406-444-6258.

The following people have experience with bridge adoption and can help you learn about the process and restoration challenges in adopting old bridges.

Bridge Contact
Several Bridges in Great Falls Doug Wicks
Recreational Trails, Inc.
P.O. Box 553
Great Falls, MT 59403-0553
Missouri River Bridge in Fortt Benton Roger Axtman
City of Fort Benton
P.O. Box 8
Fort Benton, MT 59442
Lewis & Clark Bridge in Wolf Point Boone Whitmer
872 Nickwall
Wolf Point, MT 59201
Big Hole River Overflow Bridge W. G. Gilbert, III, P.C.
Rotary Club of Dillon, MT
P.O. Box 306
Dillon, MT 59725