Malta – A Bridge Too Far

Malta, Montana.

We left Theodore Roosevelt National Park on our way to Glacier National Park in Montana. Time for a break, we pulled off U.S. Highway 2 at Malta to visit the Montana D.O.T. Rest Area at Trafton Park. While getting out of the car in the parking lot, an old bridge caught my eye.

Trafton Park

I couldn’t see much of the bridge from the parking lot, but I captured a quick image from there anyway. We moved closer to the bridge and I felt the urge to launch the drone.

As you can see by the opening photo, the bridge no longer even has a deck. I got to wondering how this sad state of affairs came to be. The Internet can be a wonderful thing. I learned that this bridge was abandoned when Highway 2 was rerouted for a newer bridge a bit to the west of this site at Trafton Park.

Bridges on the Milk River at Malta

Looking west along the Milk River, in the background, you can see the current Highway 2 span, and further west, the BNSF railroad bridge.

New hope for an old bridge

In this image, you can see what is now a small road that once was probably the bridge approach. I couldn’t find much detail on this bridge online. In fact, the Bridgehunters website links to a photo of this bridge calling it an old railroad bridge where pretty much everywhere else I saw, it’s referred to as the old Highway 2 bridge.

There is a sign of hope for the old bridge according to an article online on the Phillips County News website here. That bridge now serves as a trailhead marker for the Trafton Trail. Obviously, with the deck missing, the bridge itself is blocked off from access. The goal of a bridge renovation project is to install decking from reclaimed lumber, and add lights and benches. The north end of the bridge will remain closed off as that property is now in private ownership. As you can see, if you check out the article, the pedestrian bridge that comes to be will be a nice addition to the Trafton Park trailhead.

John Steiner

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