The History of the West Cashmere Bridge

Built in 1929, the West Cashmere Bridge originally served to connect orchardists on the north bank of the agricultural community to the small town of Cashmere on the south bank of the Wenatchee River. The bridge, commonly called the Goodwin Bridge by locals, was an important channel for goods being shipped out of Cashmere via the railroad line or Sunset Highway, one of the original primary automobile roads in Washington.

Today, the bridge is slated for replacement. Chelan County has determined the 88-year-old structure is a fracture-critical bridge that is functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. It is currently posted for both weight and height restrictions, restricting most freight haulers, school buses, local transit buses and some emergency vehicles from using it. In fact, county engineers predict the bridge may be closed by 2022 because of its progressive deterioration. Construction on a new bridge will begin in 2020, and the project will cost $23.5 million.

Historical Significance & Condition:

Constuction on the West Cashmere Bridge started in September 1928. It was built for a mere $52,000. When opened for traffic in the summer of 1929, the bridge was praised by local newspapers. The Cashmere Valley Record called it the most spectacular and beautiful bridge in all Chelan County. The Wenatchee World described it as one of the finest traffic bridges in the state.

Most people don’t know that three different types of bridges were utilized in the design of the West Cashmere Bridge. Beginning at the south approach: A 34-foot, 6-inch reinforced concrete girder span; an 82-foot through steel riveted plate girder span over future railroad tracks that were never installed; two 117-foot riveted steel Warren deck truss spans with verticals over the Wenatchee River; and three variable length (each about 35 feet long), reinforced concrete girder spans at the north approach. The curb-to-curb roadway width of the bridge is 20 feet.

Maury M. CaldwellThe most significant segments of the bridge are its two 117-foot riveted steel Warren deck truss spans with verticals. While a small number of Warren through trusses remain, the number of Warren deck trusses is rare in Washington. Warren trusses became popular in the late 1930s; so Warren trusses built before the 1930s are substantially more significant than those built later due to their rarity. In addition, this was about the era when heavy standard steel-rolled sections were being introduced into the design of the truss members. The West Cashmere Bridge is one of the last bridges standing that uses truss members fabricated via the “build-up” method of light-rolled steel sections with tie plates and lacings.

The bridge was designed by Maury M. Caldwell, who designed other notable bridges throughout the state. In 1922, Caldwell designed the Pasco-Kennewick Bridge, a 1,410-foot steel cantilever structure that crossed the Columbia River. Henry Hagman built the local bridge as well as many other bridges throughout the Pacific Northwest. In 1931, Hagman built the nearby Monitor Bridge, a concrete arch bridge that crosses the Wenatchee River at Main Street.

To ensure the history of the bridge is preserved, the county contracted with HistoryLink, an online encyclopedia of state history. HistoryLink wrote a historical piece about the bridge and its designer that is posted on its website. WSDOT also is working on an inventory of all historic bridges in Chelan County that should be available soon.