The twin lift bridges at Fairview and Mondak attract a lot of interest — and always have. They are unique in many ways and very impressive. Both are easy to get to, winter or summer. Roads and highways drive alongside the bridges, or underneath.
Bill Shemorry, historian and photographer
A few days ago, while researching McKenzie County history, I ran across a familiar sight, the Snowden Bridge as captured by Williston photographer William Shemorry.
Shemorry’s photo collection at the North Dakota Heritage Center is from his career of a newspaper publisher, reporter, photographer, historian, researcher, and author in Williston, North Dakota. The state has 277 boxes of Shemorry’s research, photographic prints, negatives, newspapers, slides, artifacts, and sports programs. As many as 100,000 images are in the collection dating from the 1870s-2004.
He photographed the bridge at Snowden, or as some say, at Nohly. Both the towns of Snowden and Nohly are long gone. The bridge and the Missouri River that it crosses are photographic gems.
You can see history, too
Drive past Fort Union Trading post into Montana, and you’ll follow the Missouri River to drive past what’s left of the abandoned (burned down) town of Mondak. About 3 miles further is the Snowden Bridge. A gravel road gets you to this same view of the bridge that Shemorry explored.
The Fairview Liftbridge is about 15 miles away, crossing the Yellowstone River.
We like to recommend people spend a day in the region to absorb the history of the Fort Union Trading Post, the Missouri Yellowstone Confluence Center, Fort Buford, the Fairview Liftbridge and the Cartwright Tunnel.
The region is just a few miles from Fairview where you can get food and fuel. It’s up the road from Sidney, Montana, an excellent town for food, fuel, and lodging. Of course, you can stay on the North Dakota side. The region is about 45 minutes from either Watford City or Williston where you can bed down and continue your explorations for one more day — or more!