Sunday, June 24, 2018

Wahkeena Falls Bridge

Ok, our next stop on the ongoing Gorge bridge project is the old footbridge at Wahkeena Falls, which (like the Benson Bridge at Multnomah Falls) went in around the same time as the old Columbia River Highway. The highway's National Historic Landmark nomination mentions the footbridge as a contributing structure. It says the bridge was built in 1914, and was designed by Karl P. Billner, who also did the Benson Bridge and most of the highway bridges along this stretch of the road, including the boring one over Wahkeena Creek that we just visited a post or two ago. The nomination doc goes on to describe the bridge:

This rubble masonry footbridge is 46 feet long and 8 feet wide and contains a semi-circular barrel arch with a 14-foot opening. The masonry guard walls, with concrete caps, continue east and west of the bridge for some distance. Simon Benson paid for the bridge's construction, as he did for the Multnomah Falls Footbridge.

As with the Benson Bridge further east, it seems this was built while Benson still owned the land here. He owned the waterfalls and decided they needed bridges, and started throwing money around to make it happen. Thanks to being rich and powerful, Benson even managed to borrow the highway's bridge engineers -- who must have been rather busy already -- to do the design work for these bridges too.

There isn't a whole lot else about this one on the interwebs, and a lot of the links just repeat the same source material (kind of like I just did above), but here's what I've got. The library's newspaper database didn't have anything worth sharing, but the Library of Congress has a half-dozen or so vintage photos as part of its Historic American Engineering Record collection, and there are a couple of Waymarking pages about it, and it shows up on Columbia River Images and Recreating the HCRH page.

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