A Bridge Under Construction

Source: The LeGate Family, 1961

This is a great shot of the bridge. I was looking closely at the detail in it (the resolution on some of these early black & white photos is amazing) and noticed quite a few things. Click on the picture to open it up and then zoom in. Here’s what I noticed:

First, it looks like it was taken from the old visitor lookout on the Page side of the canyon. Do you remember that spot? It’s still there but blocked off. It provided a great view of the dam and bridge from just downstream of it. There was a parking lot and a short trail down to the lookout. You can still see it on Google Earth. Back to the picture. This is looking upstream. Notice that on top of the bridge, construction is going on while visitors are allowed to be there. I don’t think anyone would get away with that today. You can see the footbridge in the background. This also provides a good shot of the dirt coffer dam that was built to divert water (via the diversion tunnels) around the dam site during that early construction. Notice too, the first few levels of the dam that have been poured. The penstocks are visible, angling out of the top of each level. Look how small the people are standing on the dam. Notice too, the wooden walkways and stairs between each section. Those were constantly being moved as the dam went up. I remember standing on the bridge so many times, watching these same things going on below.

Did you notice the ladders at the top of the bridge? Do you see the cables tied to the handrails by the ladders? Follow them down to the horizontal cross brace and you’ll see two workers (one on each end of the brace) working to secure the cross brace to the main structure. You can see the cable from the crane on top between the two workers at the top. It looks like the crane is holding that cross brace in place while it’s being attached. You’ll notice the cross braces on the other side of the bridge are already in place, but the one to the left of the one they’re installing is yet to be added.



2 thoughts on “A Bridge Under Construction

  1. Hi, Mike. Great photo. Haven’t seen that one.

    This photo was taken after the bridge was completed. When traffic first started using the bridge, there was some movement on the bridge, especially if 2 big semi trucks were traveling one after the other. It caused the bridge begin a “bounce” up and down, like if you have ever walked across a swing bridge and it started going up and down. It is technically a harmonic.

    The workers are installing torsion bars on the bridge. You can see the rings around the beam, which is really a twisted beam, which makes the torsion bar. It flexes with the bridge movement, just like a torsion bar on a car. They installed them on each end of the bridge to dampen that motion. I think that traffic was limited or maybe stopped during that time. Maybe someone remembers. These torsion bars are still there and greatly reduced that movement.

    The boy scouts were able to get many of the old rivets that had been installed on the original beams. The scouts spray painted them silver, like galvanized, made a 3.5 card that stated their purpose, then sold the rivets as souvenirs. I was part of that boy scout group. We made some money on it to help fund our trip to summer camp. When I return to Page, I can take a photo of the one I still have and the card.

    That view point was, in my opinion, the best one for watching the dam construction, since is was close and lower than the others. Too bad it has been closed. Probably too close to the dam for security purposes.

    Keep up the good work on the photos.

    Mike Woods


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