Little is left of the old Dewey Bridge, which burned on the 6th of April. That Sunday evening a 6-7 year old boy had crawled unwatched by his parents in the tamarisk along the Colorado River. The boy may have struck two or three matches from a matchbook. The dry brush of tamarisk caught quickly afire, and flames spread upriver to the old suspension bridge. It was not possible to save the isolated old bridge. It burned for nearly two hours before the first fire fighters arrived.
Dewey Bridge crossed the Colorado River downstream from the mouth of the Dolores River. It connected the Grand Valley and Cisco Desert to canyons of the Colorado. If you came from the east, it was on the best route to the most beautiful spot on Earth.
To cross Dewey Bridge, you pulled-in your mirrors and held your breath. Construction of the bridge, which was designed to support six horses, three wagons, and 9000 pounds of freight, was finished in 1916. I first crossed the bridge in the spring of 1978 on my first trip to the canyon country of Utah. The crossing evoked stories of school buses and weight worries among my companions, some of whom had been across the bridge many times over decades. After my first crossing of Dewey Bridge, I had many more, and after the new bridge was built I would usually stop for a few minutes to walk out on the wooden planks of the old bridge.
The wooden railings and planks that once formed the floor of Dewey Bridge are now a path of char that extends from the south tower pier to the edge of the Colorado River. Sooty suspension cables swoop over the river. The cylindrical metal suspenders that held the floor in place hang idly now from the suspension cables to swing in the breeze as if blackened timepieces. The burned tamarisk on the riverbank are like the foreboding souls encountered by Dante in the Inferno as he crossed the River Styx.
People gather at the south tower pier. Some of the visitors knew the old bridge and others do not. Those who had crossed Dewey Bridge tell stories and share their affection for the old conveyance. What remains is sadness and spans of cable that now hold no weight but memory.
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I have used for this post an article from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinal written by Gary Harmon that was published on 7 Apr 2008.