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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Then and Now

The bridge in this post card was designed by the famous architect, Ralph Modjeski, the chief engineer for the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge which began construction in 1933. The Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company built the bridge by cantilevering it out from rock walls on both sides of the canyon.
The first steel for the bridge arrived on site on May 18, 1911, and was lowered by derrick to the bottom of the gorge. Men climbed down rope ladders to attach cables to the steel beams and the steel was hoisted back up both sides of the canyon as the beams were needed. The first train crossed the bridge only four months later on September 17, 1911.

The crossing of the Crooked River played a critical role in the competition to build a railroad up the Deschutes River Valley. The incentive for railroad construction was reaching the vast stands of timber south of Bend. The Oregon Trunk Railway, owned by Jim Hill of the Great Northern Railway, started up the west side of the Deschutes. In the meantime the Des Chutes Railroad, owned by Edward Harriman of the Union Pacific, started up the east side. At 126 miles both railroads had to cross a major tributary of the Deschutes, the Crooked River. There was only one place where the cliffs on both sides were close enough to build a bridge. Jim Hill had obtained the rights to the location when his Oregon Trunk Railroad acquired the Central Oregon Railroad Company on December 1, 1909. The Central Oregon had laid no track and the rights to the bridge site were its principal asset. Hill's acquisition of the location forced Harriman to negotiate a settlement whereby the Oregon Trunk would own almost the entire line from the Columbia to Bend but Harriman's company would have the right to use the track.

Through a series of mergers the rail line and the bridge has become part of the BNSF Railway. The Union Pacific still has the right to use the track.

This is what the bridge looks like today:
The post card was printed and published by the H. H. Tammen Curio Company. They were located at 1516 Arapahoe Street in Denver, Colorado from 1896 to 1953. The picture on the front does not have a white border around it, and the back is divided. From this we can conclude that the post card was printed some time between 1912 and 1915.

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