Recently a group of volunteers donated a few hours of their Saturday morning to do some maintenance work on a segment of the Ice Age Trail that includes the Rainbow Bridge. (Thank you, volunteers!) So, you may be asking, what is the Rainbow Bridge?
At the back of the Lodi High School there is an Ice Age Trail kiosk that marks the beginning of a short (1/2 mile) segment of the Ice Age Trail. This segment starts at the High School and runs behind the Middle School and through a stretch of woods to reach the Strangeway Play Lot, next to the Lodi Golf Course. When this trail segment was being planned there was a challenge that needed to be addressed: How to cross the ravine that runs between the High School and the Middle School?
The answer was to build a 150-foot bridge to span the ravine. But not just any bridge would do. Ron Wolfe, an Ice Age Trail member who was an engineer with the U.S. Forest Products Lab in Madison, designed the structure based on a 16th century bridge of Chinese design. The twin arches of the bridge give it the look of a rainbow. Given Ron’s background, he took the project one step further by having the arches, railing and decking built with black locust wood from trees that are considered to be an invasive species and not valued. The National Park Service and others will be monitoring the bridge over time to assess the long-term durability of black locust as a building material and the possibility of putting this invasive to good use.
And here’s one more thing that makes this bridge special: It is currently the largest human-made structure on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail!
The bridge, which was dedicated in 2010, is an engineering marvel and took almost four years to complete. Numerous volunteers worked on the bridge including Lodi High School and Middle School students and Ice Age Trail volunteers from the local chapter as well as from across the state. The bridge has been part of graduation ceremonies at the High School as seniors walked across the bridge to signify their crossing over into a new phase of their lives.
The Rainbow Bridge is definitely one of the gems of the Ice Age Trail and it’s right here in our community. One more reason to take a walk…..Along the Ice Age Trail.