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View overlooking Four Bears Bridge, near New Town, N.D.
View overlooking Four Bears Bridge, near New Town, N.D.
TitleView overlooking Four Bears Bridge, near New Town, N.D.
Date of Original1955
CreatorShemorry, Bill, 1914-2004
Creator RolePhotographer
DescriptionView overlooking the Four Bears Bridge crossing over the Missouri River near New Town, N.D. This bridge was completed in 1955 after the Garrison Dam was closed off. This pictured bridge was in use from 1955 until 2005 when the new current Four Bears Bridge was opened.
General SubjectTransportation
Subject (LCTGM)Rivers
Truss bridges
Piers & wharves
Subject (LCSH)Indians of North America - Transportation
LocationNew Town (N.D.)
Four Bears Bridge (N.D.)
Fort Berthold Indian Reservation (N.D.)
Sanish (N.D.)
Item Number1-44-1-3
Format of OriginalPhotographic prints
Dimensions of Original21 x 26 cm.
Transcription"Bill Shemorry, 1955" -- Handwritten on front of photograph.
"4 Bears Bridge, 51% Oil p.8" -- Handwritten on back of photograph.
NotesTitle created by staff.
Biography/HistoryWilliam E. "Bill" Shemorry was a native of Williston, N.D. who began work in the newspaper industry as a newsboy selling the Williston Herald and the Williams County Farmers Press. In 1953, he started to publish the Williston Plains Reporter, which he operated for 25 years before selling to the Williston Herald. Shemorry then began to concentrate on his own writing and photography. In addition to writing many books on the history of Williams County, he also collected photographs of early North Dakota photographers. Shemorry was an active member of the Williston Fire Department, was Civil Defense Chief of Williams County for three years in the 1950's, and was a combat photographer in World War II. Shemorry's photograph of the discovery of oil in North Dakota on April 4, 1951 at the Clarence Iverson No. 1 is one of the most famous oil photographs ever taken, and was published in many national publications.

A new design was completed for a bridge to be located at New Town, a new city established on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation to house folks who were displaced when dozens of other smaller towns were flooded up by the Garrison Dam, including Elbowood and Sanish. Engineers would build four new piers at the center of the lake. The truss section of the Four Bears Bridge would be floated 40 miles up stream and installed on new piers near New Town. Long sections of top deck truss sections were installed on both ends of the truss to connect the truss section to the bluffs on each side of the lake. The project was completed in 1955. Work had to wait for the Garrison Dam to be closed off and the lake started to fill in order for there to be the water depth needed to move the truss structure. The result was a 4, 483 foot long bridge with a 1, 425 foot central truss structure. It was 20 feet wide, and stood 44 feet above the lake when the lake was at its nominal level of 1, 838 feet of elevation.
Bibliographic ReferenceInformation in the History section on the Four Bears Bridge found online at -
Repository InstitutionState Historical Society of North Dakota
Repository CollectionWilliam E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection Mss 10958
Credit LineState Historical Society of North Dakota, William E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection (1-44-1-3)
Rights ManagementPermission to reproduce this image must be requested from the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Ordering InformationTo order a reproduction, inquire about the collection, or provide information about an image, please email Emily E. Schultz at
Digital IDws14413
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