|Front page, March 15th, 1913|
Though the construction was largely completed in 1912, its formal opening was in 1913, and the event was front page news. It was a big deal.
And it's still a big deal. Its anniversary deserves a commemorative walk or bike ride - tip your cap!
Its anniversary might also remind us a certain humility in the face of projections about the future. As we consider another big bridge across the river, let's look at how the editorial page welcomed the bridge in 1913.
WE ARE GLAD TO SEE YOU
SALEM is indeed gratified at the splendid and unanimous response to her invitation to her neighbors to visit and celebrate with her the most important event in her history, the completion of the big P.E.&E. railroad bridge that places her in close touch with the immensely rich west side country. A section "fair as the garden of the Lord," and as rich as it is beautiful...
And while we celebrate today the completion of this important link, the steet bridge, we must remember that it is only a link. Just the starter for the long and strong railroad chain that is to bind the whole valley in closer union...
You are as welcome as rain to the drooping flowers, as a baby's kisses to its mother, as a holiday to a school boy in fishing time...
THE DAWNING OF AN ERAThe primary use on the line was to transport logs from the Falls City area and people on the interurban. Both uses tailed off significantly in the 1930s and after the war, it was hardly used.
TODAY is not the celebration of an event, it is the recording of the beginning of an era....[it is] the welcoming of THE birthday that marks the ending of our minority and the opening out of manhood, with all the bright vistas, the brilliant promises - the right and the power to do and dare, to attempt and achieve, to make and take our place in the big world.
So it seems the bridge really had a meaningful life of intense use for only two decades or so.
As we think about a third bridge, it is likely we are on the cusp of another structural change in transportation technology and use. In 1913 it was not necessarily clear that private automobiles and trucks would totally trump the rails for logging and passengers.
In 2013 is not clear that private automobiles and trucks will remain so dominant. In fact, there are good reasons to think their use will diminish - not to be eliminated, but to be eclipsed in the way rail is today.
It would not be surprising for a giant third bridge and highway, if built, to have a meaningful life of only a decade or two - and future generations be stuck with a relic and ruin, just as we were stuck with the Union St. RR Bridge.
Luckily we were able to repurpose it. We might not be so fortunate with a giant, new third bridge.
|This is really how big would be|
In a comment Walker mentions development:
|1911 Ad for Kingwood Park development|