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The distinctive Snowden Bridge, a vertical lift bridge which spans the Missouri River in Montana, not far from it’s entrance into western North Dakota, creates an intense reaction to all who see it for the first time.  For some, it’s curiosity when they see such a large, imposing structure in an unexpected place.  For others, it’s admiration as they stumble across a feat of engineering not often associated with the Missouri River in a low population area.  For many, it’s the memory of driving across the dual purpose bridge in a vehicle,a few while learning to drive and under the tutelage of a high school driving instructor.   And for a few, it’s knowing the history of the area, which included the lawless, unsavory, bawdy town of Mondak, part in Montana and part in North Dakota, east of the north end of the bridge.

 

Snowden Bridge. Haunted?

Is the bridge haunted?  More than a few have said so, and if you spend time in the Mondak area, east of the north end of the Snowden Bridge, you just might agree.

 

Snowden Bridge

The bridge consists of three fixed spans, each 267 feet, and a lifting span which is 300 feet long. It was powered by a gasoline engine. The bridge was completed in 1913 at a cost of $610,000.

 

Great Northern Railway

Constructed in 1912 -13 (along with it’s sister bridge, the Fairview Bridge, which spans the Yellowstone River not far away in North Dakota), the Snowden Bridge was part of a large scale plan by the Great Northern Railroad to construct the Montana Eastern Railway, which would have been a second east-west main line connecting New Rockford, North Dakota and Lewistown, Montana.   World War I put an end to those plans.   The Snowden Bridge is still operational for rail traffic, t hough not as a main line.  Vehicles shared the bridge until 1986.

 

 Snowden Bridge  Montana

From the west, the Snowden Bridge can be seen just barely over the channel of the Missouri River.

 

 

Toughest Town in the West 

Oh.  And that haunting sensation in regards to the frontier town of Mondak?   Here’s what the Bismarck Tribune reported not so long ago:

Using bars and sledge hammers, a mob from Plentywood, Mont., forced open the jail doors, took Collins to a telephone pole, hung him and, after several drinks at the bar, threw his body into the Missouri River.  With this, the national press began to refer to Mondak as “the toughest town in the west” until Prohibition dried up the town in the ’20s. People and businesses left and, in 1928, a prairie fire burned most of what remained.

Stay tuned to learn details about this Wild West Town!   More to come.

 

Learn about other seemingly haunted places in western North Dakota.     Click Here to learn about Wheelock! 

For information on another nearby historic attraction, check out Fort Union Trading Post.   Don’t forget their upcoming summer June Rendezvous.  

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