Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Other Murrow Brother

Mercer Island in the Lake Washington would have been a great gravel mine resource if all those people hadn't moved there and covered up the deposit with houses. Its proximity to Seattle led to the island becoming a suburban community faster than the need for gravel. Its boost to suburbia along with other communities east of the lake was the construction of the first floating bridge in Washington State. Lake Washington is deep and wide enough that the most practical way to bridge the lake was a floating bridge.

It was a bold and I am sure to some a bit crazy sounding to build a floating bridge. But Lacey Murrow the Director of Highways pushed the idea and the first floating bridge was completed across the 200-foot deep section of Lake Washington in 1940. The bridge was named after Murrow in the 1960s after he died. A parallel floating bridge was built in the 1990s and named after Homer Hadley, the designer of the first bridge.

Murrow's leadership on bridge building in the 1930s greatly shaped many of the communities around Washington State. He was Director of Highways at the time of the building the bridges at Deception Pass at the north end of Whidbey Island. He also started the bridge across the Columbia just downstream of Grand Coulee Dam. The infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge which did not not turn out so well initially was started under his directorship. He also set up the bridge tolling authority which led to the ability to pay for a number of other bridges around the state.

Lacey Murrow grew up in Blanchard, Washington and went to high school in Edison, Washington. His younger brother was Ed Murrow, the famous radio and television journalist who brought reports from Europe during WWII, and he took on Joseph McCarthy's activities in congress. The community hall in Blanchard is very proud of the Ed Murrow legacy, but his older brother did pretty well for Washington State as well.

1 comment:

Lisa McShane said...

That's a great story! I had no idea.