Search billions of records on

Railroad Bridge
Home Up Resources

horizontal rule

City Directories
Ethnic Groups
Vital Records



These pages are Copyright 2001-2007, by Julie Kidd, all rights reserved. 


Please report any broken links, or other concerns, to the webmaster.

 Please respect copyright on and off the Internet.




THERE never was a more complete verification of the old adage, "It never rains but it pours," than in the building of bridges across the Willamette. For years the citizens of Portland have tried to span that navigable stream with a bridge, but injunctions have defeated them in the courts, and lobbies blocked them in the legislature. At last, a year ago, the Morrison street bridge was thrown across the stream, followed by one at Salem and Albany; now a fourth is under construction, and the plans for a fifth are in the hands of its projectors, at Oregon City. Four bridges in one year, with a fifth in embryo, are enough to convince the most doubting of Oregon Thomases, that Stephen Maybell was gifted with a prophetic tongue, when, in tuneful cadence, he sang that well-known couplet:

They're going to build, I feel it, yet,

A bridge across the Willamette.

The bridge now under construction, an engraving of which is given on page 911, is being erected by the Oregon Railway & Navigation Co., and will answer the triple purpose of a railroad, wagon road and foot bridge. The view taken by the artist shows the bridge as seen from the east side of the river a few hundred feet down the stream. In the distance may be seen the eastern end of the Morrison street bridge, the western end being hidden by the bend in the river between the two structures. Its solid framework of iron and steel, as well as its ample proportions, are plainly shown in the engraving, from which it will be easy to understand the detailed description of its constituent parts which follows.

In total length, the bridge proper is six hundred and sixty feet, and consists of two spans, one fixed and the other a draw. The draw span is three hundred and forty feet long, and begins on the west bank, extending to a pier near the center of the stream. It rests on a pivotal pier, and when open, swings over a protection of piling built at right angles to the bridge, and extending one hundred and ninety feet each way from the center, or twenty feet beyond either end of the bridge. The pier upon which the draw rests, was made by driving a solid body of piles into the bed of the stream, which were sawed off evenly at a depth of forty feet below low water mark. Upon this was laid a grillage of twelve by twelve timbers, alternately crossing at right angles, to a height of twenty-four feet, upon which was erected a pier of solid masonry to the top, which forms a rest for the turn table. This pier is thirty-one feet in diameter at the top, and has upon it a track, upon which the steel wheels of the bridge, fifty-six in number, move. The draw will be operated by a small steam engine, located on one side of the draw span.

The pier upon which the connecting ends of the two spans rest, was made by driving two clusters of piles, fourteen feet in diameter, side by side, around each of which was sunk a heavy iron cylinder, the spaces inside being solidly filled with concrete. The cylinders are ninety-six feet high, and extend seventy feet below low water mark. The fixed span, extending from the cylinder pier to the east bank of the river, is three hundred and twenty feet long. The bottom of this span is thirty feet above low water mark, a distance sufficient to permit tags and small steamers to pass under at all stages of the water, except the highest.

As before stated, the bridge is designed for the triple use of trains, wagons and foot passengers, and for this purpose is divided into four compartments. Upon the bottom of the bridge, which is twenty feet wide between the trusses, will be laid a single railroad track, twenty feet in the clear, above the track, being allowed to the solid plank floor of the wagon roadway above. The upper half is the same width as the lower, giving ample room for trains to pass. The space in the clear above the planks is fourteen feet, the remainder of the forty feet of total height of the structure being filled with angle-iron braces. On a level with the roadway, outside the trusses, on each side, is a foot-way six feet wide, protected by am-pie railings and guards.

The structure is being erected by the O. R. & N. Co., on its own account, an not by contract, so that its exact cost is yet unknown. It will approximate $350,000.00. The frame is of solid iron and steel, chiefly the latter, the draw span weighing five hundred tons, and the fixed span three hundred and eighty tons. The bridge is being made by the Union Bridge Co., of Athens, Penn., and will arrive in perfectly matched parts, ready to be joined and placed in position. The best of material is being used, and every effort will be made to secure the best structure possible. The chief engineer is George S. Morison, of New York City, who is represented here by George A. Lederle, the engineer in immediate charge of the work.

On the west side the approach to the wagon-way is seven hundred feet long, beginning at the corner of Third and G streets, and forming a viaduct over the tracks of the Northern Pacific and the Oregon and California roads. The railroad track from the bridge will connect immediately with tracks now on Front street. On the east side, the roadway connects with Holladay avenue by an approach of one hundred and fifty feet, and the track joins the tracks of the O. & C. through a deep cut being made in the high bank south of the bridge.

The structure will be completed about the first of April, when trains from the East may come across the river. What plans are being matured for terminal facilities on this side of the river, it is impossible to ascertain; nor can it be learned what temporary conveniences will be provided until the expected grand union depot will be completed. It is probable that these details have not yet been arranged by the officers of the several roads interested, and will not be until the bridge is ready for use.

horizontal rule