The first time Nancy and I ever travelled to Moab, in about 1977, we crossed the old Dewey Bridge. It was a one lane wooden suspension bridge that carried Highway 128 across the Colorado River. We had to wait to cross because a truck pulling a fairly large boat headed for Lake Powell was inching across it. Then we had to wait for the traffic coming the other way to cross before we could get across the river.
The bridge was 502 feet (153 m) long and 10.2 feet (3.1 m) wide. The bridge was completed in 1916 by the Midland Bridge Company. The bridge consisted of 2 metal towers, an all wood deck, 2 runs of 7 cables on either side of the bridge deck, and concrete cable anchors. The bridge was designed to support the weight of 6 horses, 3 wagons, and 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg) of freight. On the day of its completion it was the 2nd longest cable suspension bridge in the United States west of the Mississippi River. The largest was also built by the Midland Bridge Company, who used the same base plans for both bridges. The longer twin to the Dewey Bridge crossed the Little Colorado River along U.S. Route 89 in Cameron, Arizona. The Dewey Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in Utah. A dozen years ago the bridge was moved and a new highway bridge built to carry auto traffic. The old Dewey Bridge became a walking bridge and a curiosity. We crossed the new highway bridge fifty time and we never stopped to look at and walk across the old bridge because we thought it would always be there.
Last month, on April 8, a 7 year old boy was playing with matches and started a fire along the river bank. The exotic tamarisks caught fire and then burned down the riverbank till it caught the creosote soaked wooden planks of the bridge on fire. There is talk of raising money to rebuild the bridge, mainly by the group that maintained the historic structure.