Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sandy River Bridge, Troutdale




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This somewhat delayed installment of the long-running bridge project takes us back to Troutdale for another Sandy River bridge. This one carries the Historic Columbia River Highway over the river, and doesn't seem to have an agreed-on name of its own. I've seen "Troutdale Bridge" and "Sandy River Bridge", but there are other bridges in Troutdale, and others over the Sandy outside of Troutdale, so those aren't overly specific names.

The bridge dates back to 1912, making it the oldest extant part of the Gorge Highway. It looks it, too. I think they built it just barely big and strong enough to carry the occasional Model T, but today it gets ginormous luxury RVs towing ginormous luxury SUVs piled high with bikes and kayaks and sailboards and such. I mean, it's not actually falling down as far as I know, but I kind of feel sorry for the poor little thing. Except when I have to drive across it and there's oncoming traffic larger than a Vespa, in which case I'd curse its name if only it had one.

Walking across isn't so bad. There's a separate walkway on the south (upstream) side of the bridge. Granted it's made with extremely old wooden slats, and here and there you get glimpses of the river through gaps in the slats. So that part isn't so fabulous, really. But I've never heard of the slats actually giving way and dumping people into the river, although I suppose there's a first time for everything. In any event, once you're across there's no sidewalk along the Gorge Highway, and you'll need to walk on the shoulder to get anywhere, while avoiding the aforementioned ginormous luxury SUVs, so I don't think the bridge gets much pedestrian use. Bikes maybe, but not pedestrians.

It does, however, attract daredevils who jump into the river from here, on purpose, for fun, although getting back out of the river in once piece (or being found at all) is not exactly guaranteed. I won't spend a lot of time on this point, because a.) I've gone on about it before and already feel like I'm being a tedious scold and a founding member of the anti-fun police for doing so. And b.) I've found that when I write about places that get a lot of newsworthy, untimely demises (High Rocks and the Vista Bridge, for example), sooner or later there's going to be another one. Then the post gets a sudden flood of search hits, and I have to hurry and check it to see if it's reasonably tasteful under the present somber circumstances, which it quite often isn't.

Info about the bridge, from sources spanning the interwebs:
  • Structurae
  • Bridgehunter
  • ColumbiaRiverHighway.com has an extensive history page about the bridge. It notes that the bridge was considered to be obsolete (and far too narrow) as early as 1930, and the bride deck system was replaced in the 1950s. Which I read as saying it's not really that special and historic, and could be replaced if money was available. They could always move it somewhere else, and/or turn it into a bike-only bridge, if people are really that attached to the thing.
  • Two Waymarking pages
  • City of Troutdale
  • A moody Holga photo
  • Wikimedia images
  • Via Google Books, the April 4, 1912 issue of Municipal Journal and Engineer, with a line indicating Multnomah County was asking for bids on the project at that time. The line just above it, incidentally, is for the famous and historic Colorado St. Bridge over Arroyo Seco, Pasadena, California.
  • Via the Washington State University library, a set of vintage photos (not online, sadly) with a reference to an "Auto Club Bridge" in Troutdale. Which may be a historical name for this bridge. Or it's some other bridge near Troutdale, past or present, in which case never mind.
  • Intel's code names for upcoming products and technologies borrow heavily from Oregon geography. For example, the microarchitecture used in many of their current CPU lines is called "Nehalem", and its successor is codenamed "Sandy Bridge". But like everyone else, they don't specify which Sandy bridge they have in mind.

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