Sparta’s newest bridge dedicated
In what is becoming a frequent event, the city of Sparta last Friday celebrated the dedication of a new bridge compliments of the Five Shovelmen.
The Love Lock Bridge, which spans Beaver Creek in downtown Sparta, was the sixth bridge built by the Shovelmen, who are led by Sparta businessman Reinhard Mueller. It is part of larger project funded by a $117,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Included in the larger project were improved concrete bike paths in Ben Bikin and Evans-Bosshard parks and an information kiosk and shelter near the Love Lock Bridge, all constructed by the Five Shovelmen, who besides Mueller, include Jim Cook, Jerry Kast, Al Jenkins and Kerry Schumann.
Mueller honored each of them with a plaque at the bridge dedication along with an honorary Shovelman, Abernnabi Bendris, a relocated Moroccan, who assisted on the project.
Mueller said construction of the wooden Love Lock Bridge, which replaced a previous, less-sturdy structure, began on May 22 and was completed on July 27. It includes cables on which couples can place padlocks to symbolize their love for each other.
The kiosk and shelter also is a sturdy structure, built to Shovelmen standards in a Bavarian style matching the huts in Mueller Square. Dave Hirsch of Sparta crafted the heavy, timber rafters for the structure
In all, the Shovelmen laid 720 feet of sidewalk, making an uninterrupted path between the Chamber Depot on Milwaukee Street to downtown Sparta and making it a tourist-destination feature for the city, said Mueller.
Sparta Co-City Administrator Todd Fahning said the primary goal of the project was to make the Sparta more bike friendly since it is the “Bicycling Capital of America.”
“We owe Reinhard a debt of gratitude,” he said at Friday’s ceremony.
The Shovelmen’s previous projects include the Beaver Creek Covered Bridge behind the library; the Mary Morrow Bridge, The Pointe Covered Bridge, and the Event Sign Bridge in Evans-Bosshard Park, the Ben Bikin Park Footbridge, and the Five Shovelmen Bridge in Amundson Park. They also constructed the "Around the Corner Rest Stop" bathrooms in Evans-Bosshard Park.