Public Works

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Preserving a piece of Cashmere's history

Posted On: October 22, 2018

It's always wise to stay off the (wet) lines

When the West Cashmere Bridge was built nearly 90 years ago, it was hailed in the community as a work of wonder.

“This bridge is probably the most spectacular and beautiful bridge in Chelan County,” the Cashmere Valley Record reported in an Aug. 15, 1929, article. “It is extremely high going over the river and at the north side is also a spectacular fill that had to be made for the approach. An excellent view is had from the structure.”

Joining in the good vibes was the Wenatchee Daily World, which wrote in a July 24, 1929, article that the structure was one of the most complicated bridges its contractor, Henry Hagman, had ever built. But it was built for “permanency and endurance.”

“Chelan County has one of the finest traffic bridges in the state with the completion of the $52,000 span crossing the Great Northern tracks and the Wenatchee River west of Cashmere,” the Wenatchee Daily World reported.

Digging through old newspaper articles and bridge records on the West Cashmere Bridge, has been fun, to say the least. Communications between county engineer John D. Duff Sr. and designer Maury M. Caldwell was done the old fashioned way – through the mail. The onion paper correspondence speaks of frustrations with the railroad, excitement over a nearing construction date and even a flu bug that was keeping Caldwell down.

Today, Caldwell’s creation has reached the end of its life. The West Cashmere Bridge, commonly called the Goodwin Bridge by locals, is slated for replacement. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020 and will take about 18 months. The new bridge will be in the same location but will span over the Wenatchee River and Highway 2 to Hay Canyon Road. It’s expected to cost $23.5 million.

Meanwhile, efforts are being made by Chelan County to preserve the history of the current bridge by first recording that history and then seeking a new owner for the rare and historic portion of the bridge.

A cultural resources assessment points to three reasons why the West Cashmere Bridge is historically significant and, therefore, eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Washington Heritage Register. Those reasons are: The structure was important to the general historical development of Cashmere and its local fruit industry; it was designed by Caldwell, a noteworthy bridge design consultant in Washington; and its Warren deck trusses are an example of a distinctive type of construction that’s rare in this state.

To preserve the bridge’s history, Chelan County Public Works contracted in early 2018 with the online state encyclopedia of history called HistoryLink. A HistoryLink writer pieced together the history of the Tibbetts Bridge that came before the West Cashmere Bridge, the West Cashmere Bridge’s designer and builder, and those now rare Warren deck trusses. That piece is available online.

In addition, Chelan County seeks a new home for the historic portions of the bridge – two 117-foot riveted steel Warren deck truss spans with verticals.

Let’s explain what a Warren deck truss is. The supporting frameworks of a steel truss bridge forms a series of interconnected triangles that distribute the forces to which the span is subjected -- tension, compression, torsion and shear.  The main span trusses for the Cashmere bridge is a deck truss, which means its supporting framework extends below the roadway.  The pattern of this bridge's supporting members identifies it as a Warren truss, a design first patented in England in the mid-19th century.  A pure Warren truss comprises a series of steel members that form equilateral triangles on either side of a bridge along its length.  For additional strength, vertical support members can be added between the apex and center of the base of the triangles, which was done with the West Cashmere span in an alternating pattern.

While a number of Warren pony- and through-truss bridges can still be found in Washington, few built before the 1930s have endured, and a surviving deck-truss highway bridge from that era – like the West Cashmere Bridge -- is even more of a rarity.

Chelan County will donate the trusses to any governmental, non-profit or responsible private entity for public or private use. The offer remains open until January 2019. The responsible party taking the bridge must agree to:

  1. Maintain the bridge and the features that give it its historic significance and continued eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.
  2. Assume all future legal and financial responsibility for the bridge, including providing an agreement to hold Chelan County harmless in any liability action.
  3. Pay for the hauling away of the Warren deck truss spans, their transportation to a new location and their reassembling. The new owner will be responsible for determining the cost and preparing for and conducting the relocation of the bridge. The county will pay a maximum of $110,000 toward the cost of dismantling the steel trusses, but the new owner will bear the cost of removal from the site, transportation to a new location and reassembly.

If you are interested in preserving a piece of the past, or can give a new life to the West Cashmere Bridge, contact us at Chelan County Public Works or email public.works@co.chelan.wa.us.

 

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