As a result of finding three stone arch culverts in Cowley County as mentioned in our previous post, we decided a thorough search of the roads of Dexter Township held good potential for new stone arch bridge finds not hitherto well documented. After a second round of culvert searching, we found no less than four more small stone arch bridges (culverts, technically) in the township that are not on the Cowley County stone arch bridge brochure.
The 251st Road Culvert
This is a rather sizable culvert located on 251st Road north of Dexter. This culvert spans a deep channel. Before K15 was made, 251st used to be the main road heading north out of Dexter, which is why it is not surprising that the township erected stone culverts on it. The 251st Road culvert is in fair condition, though it appears that there has been an episode or two involving stones falling out of the top of the arch, resulting in holes in the roadway. This has been successfully repaired using metal plates and concrete. Punching, as this phenomenon is called, is caused by small arch stones loosening up and vibrating out. Mortar leeching out of a bridge over the years, thereby causing the stones to loosen up slightly, is a frequent cause of punching.
All in all, the 251st Road culvert is still a rather interesting structure and certainly a practical one. The arch repair is visible from the road only in the form of a small section of concrete showing through the gravel road (see photo above) and the structure remains almost entirely of stone.
The 176th Road Culvert
Just south of the 251st Road culvert mentioned above a side road heads to the east. This road, 176th, appears to have had several stone arch culverts on it at one time. However, as seems to have happened on multiple occasions in Dexter Township, the tops of some of these culverts fell in, leaving only the bottom parts of the arch and the approaches intact. We have spotted several such culverts in Dexter Township that had been repaired with concrete to round out the top of the arch once again, creating a unique hybrid structure where the bottom of the arch was stone and the top of concrete.
Towards the end of 176th Road, near its intersection with 271st Road, we found one little gem of a stone arch bridge that remained intact.
One of the most intriguing characteristics of this culvert is how thin the arch ring is; we estimated it was about 8″ thick at the top.
The 271st Road Culvert
We encountered a couple of curious structures on 271st Road. The first was a small concrete arch culvert that formed a hump in the road of surprising altitude. A close look at this structure showed that it was of concrete only on the faces. Inside were stone abutments. However, a metal arch liner above these abutments prevented us from determining if the middle section was a stone arch. At any rate, if it was a widened stone arch culvert, it was so obscured as to no longer be visible at all.
Towards 271st’s intersection with 162nd Road, the road crosses a miniature valley between two hills. A causeway crosses this draw, and, set among a long stone approach, we found a small stone arch bridge.
This picturesque stone bridge is well worth a visit, and located in a very scenic setting. Though technically a culvert, the long causeway and approaches perforated by a simple stone arch makes this a sizable structure overall. Of all the stone arch bridges we have found thus far in Dexter Township, this is one of the best. It appears to be in excellent condition.
Another Culvert on 251st Road
Again on 251st Road, though south of Dexter this time, we found another small stone arch culvert. This culvert is located just north of 251st’s intersection with 222nd Road.
This culvert is in good condition. Though small, it has one significant characteristic that makes it unique: It is set at a skew to the road. Skew arch bridges are fairly rare and always unique, it being somewhat of a challenge to build a skewed arch. It would appear, to help achieve a skew, that the arch faces were built corbelled out slightly. That said, the stones were smoothed off so that this feature is subtle.
There are beyond a doubt many stone arch bridges in Dexter Township that are not (yet) on the Cowley County stone arch bridge brochure. These are all likely township built culverts, but seem to have been unusually well-built overall. More searching of the roads in Dexter Township has potential to reveal still more of these easily overlooked structures.