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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"


Chapter  34 - Eau Claire Industries

Bark River Bridge & Culvert Company

(-as transcribed from pages 484 - 485)


Bark River Bridge & Culvert Company. The business of this concern was started as a partnership between E. J. Bergman and Ole Harstad, at Bark River, Michigan, in 1906. After three years of successful business there, a branch house was established in Eau Claire, with Ole Harstad as proprietor and general manager. The company have plants in both cities each covering about an acre of ground with side track and railroad facilities.

Until the latter years of the 19th century, wood had been the commonest material for bridges and culverts. Its cheapness and general availability had recommended it to road superintendents with scanty appropriations and long miles of roadway. Frequent repairs and renewals had of course been necessary, but until the sharp rise in price and decline in quality of lumber, which were attendant upon the depletion of the forests, these expenditures had been little regarded. Now, however, it came to be recognized that a bridge or drain made from a material which would last only five or ten years, was a poor investment; and road builders turned to other forms of construction, and the corrugated culverts are now fast taking the place of all other material.

In 1906 there was placed on the market a product which chemical analysis showed to be of a purity never before attained. It was given the name of American Ingot Iron. This metal combines the best quality of steel and wrought iron, and avoids the imperfections of both. It is ductile and tough and will stand the most severe bending and manipulation without a flaw. It will weld readily, and has a high degree of electrical conductivity. It has a homogeneous and finely crystalline structure, and its density is slightly greater than that of either wrought iron or steel.  Practical experience has shown it to be resistant to corrosion to a greater degree than any commercial metal of which iron is the base. Another consideration of scarcely less practical importance, is the fact that American Ingot Iron takes a heavy coat of galvanizing and retains it tenaciously. Pure iron dissolves in molten zinc very much less than does steel. For this reason, the spelter coating applied to it contains a minimum of dissolved iron, and resists disintegration to a remarkable degree. It is doubtless if in the progress of time and invention, two discoveries were ever made which so exactly supported and completed one another as those of the corrugated culvert and American Ingot iron, of which the Bark River Bridge & Culvert Company have the agency in northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan.

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