Cobban, Wisconsin

Populated place


The Cobban Bridge

Two span, pin-connected Pennsylvania steel overhead truss that carries County Highway TT from WI 178 to the tiny community of Cobban. The two spans are identical.

NOTE: With the destruction of the remaining Pennsylvania truss bridges in Wisconsin, these spans are the last surviving Pennsylvania truss spans in the state.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in June 2015




Post office dates: Jan. 7, 1904-Present

Cobban Bridge 

Written by Wisconsin DOT, 1998

"Measuring over 480 feet in length, the Cobban Bridge crosses the Chippewa River in an east-west direction on County TT about 5 miles southwest of the city of Cornell. The structure is a pin-connected overhead truss with two identical Pennsylvania spans bordered by channel and angle-iron railings. It rests on concrete abutments and a single concrete pier. In addition to portal, top-lateral and sway bracing, the bridge's webbing is stiffened with sub-diagonals, extended sub-verticals, and intermediate, horizontal struts. The wood decking is protected by metal runners.

"The structure was originally located about 15 miles downstream where it was known as the "Yellow River Bridge," presumably because its site was near the confluence of the Chippewa and Yellow Rivers. It was erected at county expense in 1908, the Modern Steel Structural Steel Company of Waukesha [Wisconsin] apparently served as both fabricator and contractor for the superstructure. In 1915, the Wisconsin-Minnesota Power and Light Company approached the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners with a plan to build a hydroelectric dam about 4 miles downstream of the bridge. Since the impounded waters would inundate the river crossing, the company proposed relocating the exiting bridge superstructure. In April, 1916, after extended negotiations, the county finally approved the dam project and the company agreed to build a completely new bridge.(A)

"The decision attracted the attention of the small trading village of Cobban located about 15 miles upstream on the west back of the Chippewa. Cobban had no bridge, the nearest crossings being about 5 miles north at Cornell and an equal distance south at Jim Falls. With the strong support of Cobban merchants, local voters in December 1916 agreed to pay the cost of dismantling the abandoned Knife River Bridge, sledding the structural steel to Cobban, and reassembling the bridge at its present location.. The entire project was completed by 1919. L.G. Arnold, a professional contractor from Eau Claire, put in the new concrete substructure, while Cromby and Theilacker, a bridge-building firm from Milwaukee, supervised the steel work."

Published by the Wisconsin DOT in 1998 as part of the Historic Highway Bridges in Wisconsin project.

A - Editor's Note: The resulting flowage is called Lake Wissota, and is referenced in the movie Titanic with the lead character reminiscing about swimming in Lake Wissota. The HMS Titanic sank in 1912, the dam creating Lake Wissota was not built until 1916.

Update Log 

  • July 3, 2015: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • July 3, 2015: New photos from J.R. Manning