Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lyons Ferry Bridge has Crossed Two Rivers

The Bridge at Lyons Ferry has crossed two rivers and replaced two ferry crossings during its life. 

Bridge at Lyons Ferry

The bridge at Lyons Ferry is a unique steel cantilever bridge spanning the Snake River just downstream of the confluence with the Palouse River. In the image above the the view is from the northwest looking south. The high soft hills on the horizon are silt deposits from wind blown sediment from the southwest. The sharp dark cliffs are Columbia River Basalt that was scoured by ice-age floods that roared down into the Snake River carving a new route now followed by the Palouse River (the-palouse-river-leaves-its-valley). The bluff between the bedrock cliffs and the river is a huge gravel deflation bar deposited when the ice-age floods surged up the Snake River from the Palouse River.  

This is the second life for this bridge. The bridge was originally built at Vantage across the Columbia River and replaced a ferry at that location.

Same bridge at Vantage 1950s (WDOT)

The construction of Wanapum Dam on the Columbia downstream of Vantage in the late 1950s would inundate the old town of Vantage as well as the bridge, so the bridge was replaced with a new span. This would have happened anyway with the construction of Interstate 90 across the Columbia at Vantage. 

The original bridge was disassembled and put into storage. Yet another dam then played a role in this bridge's story. The construction of Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake River slowed the water flow on the Snake and thus slowed the river current and the cable ferry. The bridge was rebuilt to replace the Lyons ferry in 1968.

Lyons Ferry with railroad bridge to the left


Mark Danielson said...

Dan, I have a photograph of this bridge, taken by my grandfather around the time it was built. I posted it to The Long Hunt last year.

All the best.

Dan McShane said...

Thanks Mark. What a great post and pictures of the old crossings.

Anonymous said...

I think it's neat when a bridge can get a new life.