Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Fred Cruger
Contributing Writer 

Creating a waterproof railroad


March 6, 2012

The suspension bridge built from the old trestle.

The recent heavy rains certainly directed our thoughts to flooding, washed-out roads, etc.

Most of our bridges today are high enough and sturdy enough to withstand incredible floodwaters, but that wasn't always the case. The railroad, in particular, relied on a large number of timber trestles that would often wash away in times of heavy water.

Repairs were made to damaged bridges.

When there was still a need to carry heavy locomotives, the railroad had little choice but to drive new pilings and rebuild the trestles. However, in later years, when rail maintenance dwindled and rail traffic was limited to lighter vehicles (gas powered "galloping goose", or other home-made and commercial vehicles), rail users developed some unique alternatives.

When pilings washed away, it was common for the rails and ties to remain, spiked together and suspended over the river. One picture shows an example wherein the rail users ran two cables beneath the ties, suspended two cables from overhead towers erected at each end of the bridge, then ran loops from the overhead cable to the ties/cables below.

They thus turned what once was a trestle into a suspension bridge! Notice the Model T Ford truck, modified with railroad wheels, waiting to cross the new "bridge"!


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