Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bridge to Nowhere


Images from Wikipedia

Bridge to Nowhere

“Sometimes you get the best light from a

burning bridge.”--Don Henley.

Puget Sound

is an inland sea.

It’s a hundred miles long,

and a busy waterway,

as Washington State super ferries

churn their way between

the many islands.

Native Americans once stood

on what would become

Point Defiance and Tacoma,

peering over a mile

to what would become Gig Harbor.

The water runs deep and swift,

with strong currents and high winds.

During the Depression

engineers stood at the same spot

who designed a suspension bridge

that would span that distance

like a great steel ribbon.

It took three years to build it.

The Tacoma Narrows bridge opened

on July 1, 1940 and it developed problems

immediately. During high winds it would

shake, shiver and wobble, scaring drivers.

It had a design flaw called aeroelastic flutter.

On November 7, 1940, when only four months old,

while battling a 40mph wind, Galloping Gertie

snapped in half, and crashed into the Sound.

Miraculously no one was killed. A dog

named Tubby was the only fatality.

The remains of the old bridge 

lay on the bottom at 600 feet,

and over the years it created

one of the world’s largest man-made reef;

home to teeming  pods of octopi.

Between 1940-1950,

the two ends stood

as monuments to folly and hubris.

--It was the Bridge to Nowhere,

until it wasn’t--

In 1950, a new bridge was erected,

with open tresses, stiffening struts,

and many openings for the wind.

It became Sturdy Gertie, 

a modern marvel. In July, 2007,

a companion bridge was completed,

parallel to the other one.

Together they accommodate

90,000 cars a day.

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at  d'Verse Poet's Pub


Merril D. Smith said...

Thank you for the story of this bridge, Glenn. I didn't know anything about it.
Poor Tubby! It's a shame that what I imagine was a WPA project to employ people during the Great Depression was so poorly designed. I'm glad it was replaced with a well-designed bridge.

robkistner said...

Loved all this info dude, lotsa good fascinating shit I never knew. Interesting stuff always grabs me. Thank you bro for carrying me gently across my turbulent currents today. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜‰✌๐Ÿผ

Sanaa Rizvi said...

A most stunningly epic poem, Glenn! I loved learning about "Puget Sound," and all that transpired during 'The Great Depression,'it makes me realize how far we have come in time and that we have yet to go further. Here's to building stronger bridges ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’

Ingrid said...

Fascinating bridge history, in poetic form!

Kim M. Russell said...

An epic poem, Glenn, about a bridge I have never seen or crossed but now feel like I know it. In fact, I’ve never come across a waterway a hundred miles long, and the thought of it has blown my mind! I enjoyed imagining what it must have been like when the Native Americans stood where ‘The water runs deep and swift, with strong currents and high winds.’ The engineers that spent three years building it must have been made of stern stuff. I’m glad the Sturdy Gertie has ‘open tresses, stiffening struts, and many openings for the wind’ coping with 90,000 cars day.

Ron Rowland said...

I love historic non-fiction poetry, and this one is wonderful.

Xenia Tran said...

Such a fascinating story of the bridge Glenn, may poor Tubby rest in peace.

brudberg said...

I remember when I started engineering school that bridge was part of the introductory talk on why engineering is important and especially the strength of materials...

And I do remember the film with the bridge breaking down.


Kerfe said...

Progress, I suppose. Although I imagine they destroyed the octopus reef. That is indeed a loss. (K)

JadeLi said...

A truly fascinating piece of history for your area. Makes me want to come and see it. Is the old bridge still underwater?

We have Mackinac Bridge that connects the lower peninsula to the upper peninsula of Michigan. It's 5 miles long. As far as I know it's stood pretty strong since it was built 1954 (open to traffic in 1957.):::knock on wood:::

Ken Gierke said...

How cool!

lillianthehomepoet.wordpress.com said...

From Galloping Gertie to Sturdy Gertie....Loved learning about this! Hmmmm and now we have an infrastructure bill that will help, hopefully, other Gerties become more sturdy! :)