Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Creator Gifford, Willis E.
Title Willis E. Gifford album
Dates of Creation 1902-1929.
Physical Description 1 flat archives box.
Language of Material English
Scope & Content The Willis E. Gifford Album contains labeled photographs of mostly truss, girder, and I-beam bridges that were constructed in Wisconsin from 1902 through 1929 by Gifford, who was a contractor for the Elkhart Bridge and Iron Company. The album also includes numbered lists of bridges Gifford contracted on a yearly basis, copies of several contracts Gifford held with construction firms, and several photographs of Gifford himself. The numbers on the photographs correspond with the numbers on the lists, although not every bridge on the list is represented by a photograph.

In addition to the album, there is a short biographical essay on Gifford written in 1988 by Robert S. Newberry, a historian at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The essay contains further information on Gifford as a small businessman, on the design and style of bridges Gifford built, and on the Elkhart Bridge and Iron Company. This collection is a photocopy reproduction of the original album.
Admin/Biographical History Willis E. Gifford was an independent bridge builder who oversaw the construction of hundreds of bridges in Wisconsin from 1902 through 1929. Gifford was born in New York in 1867, and came to Madison, Wis. around 1900. He first worked as a traveling salesman, selling road graders and other machinery before becoming a bridge contractor for the Elkhart Bridge and Iron Company. Gifford did not participate in any of the physical bridge construction work himself, rather he attended lettings, arranged the contract, and hired foremen for the projects. Transportation historian Robert S. Newberry says that most of Gifford's early structures were "pony trusses, either pin connected Pratts or riveted Warrens." The longest structure he worked on was a 150-ft. Pratt overhead truss, although he did repair projects on larger bridges. He built as many as 70 bridges a year prior to World War I, but that number dropped precipitously by the 1920s. He built his final bridge in 1929, and died in Madison, Wis. in the 1940s.
Archival History Presented by the Wisconsin Division of Highways via Robert S. Newberry, July 15, 1988. 1988.015
People Gifford, Willis E.
.
Subjects Bridges
Bridge construction
Truss bridges


Places1 Wisconsin
Institutions1 Wisconsin. Dept. of Transportation.
Institutions2 Elkhart Bridge and Iron Company (Elkhart, Ind.)
Object Name Album
Other Creators Newberry, Robert S.
Call Number ARM 88-15
Catalog ID Number 1988.015.0001