Peace River Suspension Bridge Collapse

The Peace River suspension bridge in good shape

The collapsed bridge

On October 16, 1957, the massive suspension bridge across the Peace River at Taylor, B.C. collapsed less than a decade and a half after it was built.

Can you imagine what it was like to drive across the new Dunvegan suspension bridge three years later?  Maybe you did drive across it.

Plenty of newspapers carried the story:

CANADIAN BRIDGE FALLS INTO RIVER

Support of Giant Structure Crumbles; Loss Set at $4,000,000; 3,000 Watch as Section Falls

TAYLOR, B.C., Oct. 17–(AP)–Left without support when the shale crumbled beneath a 25,000-ton anchor block, the north span of the $4,000,000, 2,200-foot Alaska Highway suspension bridge crashed into the Peace River yesterday.

No one was injured and 3,000 persons watched as the 405-foot section buckled and dropped with a tremendous roar, seven hours after engineers had noted the northern anchor was sinking.

The collapse cut the main highway into Alaska but traffic–amounting to some 200 to 300 vehicles a day–was quickly rerouted to a small ferry 10 miles down stream.

The bridge is 600 miles north of Vancouver, B.C., and 40 miles northwest of Dawson Creek, B.C., starting point of the highway.

It was feared the center span of the bridge also would give way as its only support were two 100-foot cable towers. Engineers said the structure was sagging and might come down “pretty soon.”

The breakup severed telegraph and telephone lines into the Yukon but new lines were being strung today.

The bridge, largest of 133 on the northern road, was built in 1942 by the United States Army when it constructed the then militarily vital Alaska Highway.

The structure has given trouble before. A 200-foot section washed out in 1942 and weakened piers had to be repaired in 1948.

The north anchorage is set in shale topped by shifting clay and some sand. A similar foundation has caused considerable trouble for the Pacific Great Eastern Railway line several miles up the river.

There is an excellent, large photo of the collapsed bridge here.

A former Dawson Creek resident has written a gripping true story in connection with the collapsed bridge.  It’s well worth the read!  Find it here on the blog wordsfromanneli.

Know any interesting history of the Peace Country?  Why not post it on Town Spirit for everyone to read?  Just email townspirit@hotmail.com, or leave a comment to suggest an idea for a post.  Feedback is always welcome!

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4 Responses to Peace River Suspension Bridge Collapse

  1. Pingback: Pictures: Peace River Bridge Collapse | Town Spirit

  2. Thanks for the link to my Ice Crossing story. I had fictionalized it but it was actually my real story. I’ll never forget that event.

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