It was described as an abandoned railroad when it was listed wth the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. But the Fairview Lift Bridge still sees a lot of traffic these days. Foot traffic, that is.
“I’ve never been out here alone. In fact, I think there’s someone out here right now,” says Ray Trumpower, chairman of the Friends of the Fairview Bridge board.
Both the Fairview Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel draw quite the crowd. Closed to vehicle traffic in the 1950s and train traffic in the 1980s, the bridge is now owned by the Montana non-profit, Friends of the Fairview Bridge.
“It needed to be preserved. It’s a piece of history,” says Trumpower.
And preserved it was, to be enjoyed by many. Both the bridge and tunnel are used as a public walking trail.
“One year we took a bunch of kids out here and it was a big thrill to go across the bridge,” says Jim Englund, a resident of Jamestown.
As you make your way across the bridge towards, the tunnel, you’ll encounter “Caution, Enter At Your Own Risk” signs. Because of the tunnel’s curving angle, you’ll reach a point where you’re in virtual darkness.
“It’s kind of scary. Pigeons are flying. Sometimes you sit in the tunnel and wait for your friends or whatever. And you sit in a dark spot and scare them when they come through,” says Englund.
But not to worry. There is a light at the end of this 1,456-feet long tunnel. And its rich history…
“Somewhere between here and the Little Big Horn, on the bank of a river, is a box full of gold,” says Trumpower.
…continues to live on.
“Which side?” asks Englund.
“Hey, if I knew I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you,” jokes Trumpower.
If interested in a tour of the bridge and tunnel, you can contact the Fairview Chamber of Commerce.