The history of Long Bridge
Deadshot, the mayor, and more
Editor’s note: This is one of a series of articles about the culture and various features of Detroit Lake. Lynn Hummel is a retired Detroit Lakes attorney who pens the weekly “Pony Express” column for the Tribune’s opinion page.
Yes, Long Bridge has had a mayor. Charles Chesley was recognized as the mayor of Long Bridge, having fished there since 1934. Later, the mayor was Dr. Mel Morrow.
But more about Chesley and Morrow later. First, let’s look at a short history of Long Bridge.
Three miles southwest of downtown Detroit Lakes, Big Detroit Lake has an arm listed on maps as “Curfman Lake,” but known locally as “Deadshot Bay” (see more below on the Ghost of “Deadshot” Esterly). Big Detroit and Deadshot Bay were connected by a narrow channel about 140 feet wide and 40 feet deep.
There is evidence that there was a crossing as early as 1872 when Lake View Township was formed. It was probably only a few planks laid between chunks of sod. Few farmers, with wagons pulled by horses, had the nerve to haul loads across that crude path.
But the first real bridge was built in 1894 at a cost to the township of about $350. In those days only crude machinery and oxen power were available. A pile driver for pilings was lifted by two oxen and later two more oxen were brought in to speed up the process. An early pile driver consisted of a wooden platform, tall posts, ropes and pulleys. A big log (or railroad ties fastened together) was raised high in the air by the oxen, then dropped — over and over. The completed bridge was just wide enough for one team of horses and a wagon to go across and railings on the sides were single boards offering little protection.
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