Four Bears Bridge North Dakota

Built over the Missouri River, Four Bears Bridge is the second largest bridge in the state. The bridge opened in 2005 and replaced an older bridge which was built in 1955. The NDDOT selected a design team led by Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson and FIGG, responsible for the concrete segmental box girder alternate, aesthetics, and design charettes.

Four Bears Bridge is one of the two bridges that are built over the Missouri River on the Fort Berthold Reservation, where the three affiliated tribes: the Hidatsa, the Mandan, and the Arikara live, in North Dakota. It replaced an earlier bridge, built-in 1955 which was known as the Verendrye bridge, named after the first European explorer to visit the place known in present times as North Dakota.

Construction of the new Four Bears Bridge began in April 2003 with mobilization of sectional barges, small tugs, cranes, piling, and materials to the construction site adjacent to the lake. Preparation of the casting yard and building, water access, and pile and foundation operations were started the first year, along with positioning four barge-mounted cranes on the water to work on foundation construction. Winter came early the first year, freezing the lake in mid-November, requiring that the tugs continually break the ice to demobilize.

On November 30, 2004, a portion of the bridge collapsed, killing one worker and injuring three more. The bridge is decorated with medallions which reflect the heritage and affiliation of the three tribes who live in the reservation. The name of the bridge is taken from the name of the tribe chief’s of the Mandan and the Hidatsa both were named Four Bears. The Four Bears Bridge was officially opened to the public on September 2, 2005, and the official opening ceremonies were held on October 3, 2005.

Aside from the Bridge, there are two other monuments to Four Bears. There is a monument to the Mandan Chief Four Bears, which stood on the west side of the river near the bridge in Elbowoods. It was a tall granite pillar with a plaque on it. This monument was then moved to Twin Buttes and is now in front of the school. There is also a monument to the Hidatsa Chief Four Bears also called the Fort Laramie Monument. After the Museum was built, the monument was moved to the front of the Museum, where it now stands.