Just north of here the Camp Clarke bridge crossed the North
Platte River. The bridge was built in
the spring of 1876 by entrepreneur Henry T. Clarke to improve the trail from the Union Pacific
Railroad at Sidney, Nebraska, to the gold mining towns in the Black Hills. The route first
supplied the Sioux at Red Cloud Agency on the White River and the army at adjacent Camp
Robinson; by 1876 the trail extended to Custer City and Deadwood in Dakota Territory. In 1878-
79 some twenty-two million pounds of freight was shipped over the trail.
Clarke's bridge was about 2,000 feet long with 61 wooden trusses.
Tolls of $2 to $6 were
assessed on the hundreds of freight wagons, stagecoaches, and riders that crossed. A hamlet
known as Camp Clarke, with a hotel, store, saloon, and postoffice, sprang up at the south end of
the bridge. A log blockhouse stood on an island in the river near the north bank. Although travel
on the trail declined after 1880, the bridge continued in local use until about 1900. The site is on
the National Register of Historic Places.
Morrill County Visitors Committee
Nebraska State Historical Society
U.S. 26, West of Bridgeport, Milemarker 57.8