HELENA — Since 1892, the 96-foot-long and 22-foot-wide Morelli Bridge has been helping travelers in Helena. With the role that the Morelli Bridge served over time, it's being nominated for a spot in the National Register of Historical Places. It may not look like it at first, but Montana Department of Transportation historian Jon Axline says it was a necessary addition.
“It was built as a project to construct a bypass around last chance gulch because it was so crowded in the 1890’s that it was hard to get one end to another, so the city came up with the idea to build a bypass,” said Axline.
The Morelli bridge is the oldest timber bridge in the state of Montana built by Carlo Morelli, it had some repairs in 1975, but the bridge still retains much of its original appearance and physical and structural integrity.
“I’m always looking for historic bridges to nominate to the national register and this one was kind of a no-brainer, that there was no question in anyone’s mind that this was eligible for listing in the national register, so I just want to give it that recognition that it deserves,” said Axline.
The bridge is still used for transportation today to help travelers get to their destination.
“This obviously one of those bridges that we take for granted but it’s really got a lot of important significance to the history of Helena and Reeders Ally, and even the state of Montana because of its age and design,” said Axline.
The decision on if it’ll be accepted could be as soon as December. On October 22nd the Morelli Bridge will turn 130 years old.