Step 1: Stay curious about your past
It was a cute little bridge, about 15’ wide by 70’. Built in 1887, it was the last wooded deck bridge in Kentucky still in use. If you study the metallurgy of the time you learn that it was made of iron, not steel (steel is iron with additional carbon added for stiffness). This is important because iron doesn’t rust like steel does and (unless it is not allowed to dry out) iron only forms a light rust coating (a ‘patina’ if you will) and will stay strong throughout the years; whereas steel (if left outdoors unprotected) will eventually flake apart. (This little bridge was also designed for the horse and buggy so it was probably made from melted-down musket rifles from the Civil war :-).
According to the article the state wanted a bid proposal within two days (and the next day was a holiday); we were already behind the power curve. I wrote up a proposal and contacted the state agency (listed in the article) first thing in the morning; the same day the proposal was due. They agreed that if I could fax it in (by 4 pm) they would consider it. I got it in on time.
In our proposal we told them we would take the little bridge as is, clean it up, repair it as needed, put a fresh coat of paint on it, a fresh deck and then use it as an alternative driveway entrance to the main road. The next week they called me up and said that not only we could have the bridge, but that they would deliver it FOR FREE! Woo-hoo! Since it is a historic landmark (and it can be registered as one too) that we did not need to make it operational, only that we had to rebuild it with public access so historian could come look at it for years to come. Phbbbtt…as far as I was concerned it needed to be operational. So, Step One: find an antique bridge that somebody will give you; chances are they will deliver it for free just to get it out of their hands. Oddly enough, if you go to historicbridges.org they will tell you how to get one!