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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
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The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Dalles Bridge is 50 years old in 2002

(Dalles Bridge drawing 1951)
      This drawing of the proposed Dalles Bridge was featured on the front page of the 50th anniversary edition of the Concrete Herald on June 21, 1951, a year before the bridge was completed. Charles Dwelley is standing on the shore. He had been publisher of the paper then for 22 years and would later publish the definitive book on that area, So They Called the Town Concrete, which is now available in a reprinted version. He also compiled one of the two most important books in the Skagit County Historical Society series, Skagit Memories, first published in 1979 and still for sale at the LaConner Museum. He had a great sense of humor and made his own way in a classic company town. The caption read: "Don't try to drive across it tomorrow or the next day because the bridge you see in the picture is just a drawing. Contractors have been at work on the project for the past six months and expect to have the steel in place before fall. Final contract on the approach roads will be let today in Olympia. The bridge will eliminate two ferries upon completion. Eventually it will also make inactive the ferry at Birdsview, too."

      Ed. note: We first posted this story in December 2001. In 2005, Larry Kunzler and Dan Berentson are now researching and cataloguing articles about Skagit river floods in the Concrete Herald archives, as they have done with other newspapers. Read about their project and see links there to their website and articles about replacement of the Dalles and Faber ferries.

Historic Context:
      When the Dalles Bridge opened to traffic in August of 1952, it spelled the end for two ferry runs that had been considered a headache to Skagit County for many years and had cost $24,000 a year to operate. [See footnote.] At the time of construction, river traffic at the site included power tugs, log rafts, and pleasure craft.
      The Dalles Bridge carries the Concrete Sauk Valley Road across the Skagit River in Skagit County. Located about one and one-half miles south of where State Route 20 passes through the town of Concrete, the road provides access across the river for local and recreational traffic. River traffic below the bridge is now limited to small pleasure craft.
      The bridge was designed for Skagit County in 1950 by the firm of Cecil C. Arnold and Raymond G. Smith, Consulting Engineers of Seattle. General Construction Company of Seattle was contractor for construction. All steel was fabricated in the U.S. Steel Company's American Bridge Division plant in Memphis, Tennessee. Jim Sargent of the Washington State Highway Department was Resident Engineer for construction. Overall administration of the project was directed by H. O. Walberg, Skagit County Road Engineer.
      In 1984, end and inner portals of the bridge were raised to provide additional vertical clearance for bridge traffic. Although bolted and welded connections were used at the new portal connections, in lieu of the prior riveted connections, the portal configuration is similar to that on the original bridge. This revision has a minimal effect on the appearance of the bridge.

Statement of Significance:
      The Dalles Bridge is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its association with bridge building in Washington in the 1950s, and under Criterion C for its type, period, method, and materials of construction. The bridge meets the threshold for eligibility established by Criteria Consideration G for properties not yet 50 years old for its exceptional engineering significance.
      The significant engineering features of this bridge are the three-hinged steel-through-arch-span and the flanking-through, truss-anchor spans. Built in 1952, the Dalles Bridge is the only three-hinged steel-through-arch in Washington. The bridge was designed for, and built using the cantilever construction method, the first known use of this method in the state for arch construction. Use of the three-hinged design, simplified erection allows the arch to adjust itself to thermal changes and to movements in the event of seismic disturbances. Use of a trussed arch rib is also significant. The designer elected to use a trussed rib rather than a solid rib in order to minimize deflections at the crown due to traffic loads and temperature changes. The concrete approach spans and their supports and the entire bridge railings are of common design and were built using typical construction methods. They are not considered to be of engineering significance.

Engineering Context:
      During the first half of the twentieth century, steel arch bridges were rarely used in Washington. Those that were built were deck arch bridges, where the arch supported the bridge deck from below. 1950 marked the first use of a through steel arch configuration in the state with the construction of Columbia River Bridge at Wenatchee (now listed on the National Historic Register), incorporating a two-hinged tied arch span where the roadway deck was suspended below the arch. The second steel through arch span bridge in the state, at the Dalles in Skagit County incorporated use of three-hinges, providing for increased flexibility for stress relief under service loads.

      The 500-foot long bridge has a 300-foot riveted steel through arch span over the river gorge, flanked by a 75-foot riveted through, trus,s anchor span at each end. A 25 foot rolled steel beam span extends from the end of each anchor span to its junction with the road approach. The bridge carries one lane of traffic in each direction, within a curb-to-curb roadway width of 26 feet, plus two 3 foot, 8 inch sidewalks.
      The main span is a steel three-hinged arch with a 34 foot, 6 inch wide tapering trussed rib. The rib is made up of twelve 25-foot panels. The rib tapers from a height of 51 feet at the end of the arch to ten feet at the center of span. The lower chord of the rib rises 60 feet to its apex (or crown) at the center of span. Outer rib-web members within each panel incline from top to bottom chord toward the center of span and their connection to the vertical web members at the panel points. All top chord members, and web members are rolled steel wide flange beam sections. Bottom chord members are built-up steel members made from rolled steel angle sections and steel plates. A system of upper and lower chord lateral members and transverse cross-frame members at each rib panel point provide transverse stability to the rib. Where the rib rises above the roadway, the vertical truss members at each panel point extend downward on each side of the roadway, as hangers to connect with a transverse steel floorbeam, below the reinforced concrete roadway slab. Between panel points, five steel rolled beam longitudinal slab stringers, spaced evenly across the roadway, and two steel rolled beam sidewalk stringers rest on the floorbeams, and work with them to carry the weight of the reinforced concrete sidewalks and roadway slab, and traffic. These loads are carried through up through the hangers up to the arch ribs, and carried by the arch ribs back to their abutment supports.
      Truss members for the anchor spans are either rolled steel wide flange beam sections or built-up steel members made from rolled steel angle sections and steel plates. Once again, an upper and lower lateral members provide transverse stability. Five rolled-steel, wide-flange longitudinal slab stringers and two sidewalk stringers, supporting a reinforced roadway slab and sidewalk along with traffic loads, carry the short end spans.
      The main span and the adjacent end of the flanking anchor spans are supported on reinforced concrete abutments embedded and keyed into the rock side slopes. The approach end of the anchor span and the adjacent end of the approach span share a reinforced concrete pedestal support embedded into rock. The roadway approach end of the approach span is supported on a short L-type abutment on rock. Decorative concrete side panels are provided at each end of the approach span supports and the span itself is enclosed within sidewalls between the panels.

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Story posted on Dec. 19, 2001, and last updated Oct. 22, 2005
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