Originally known as the O.W.R.R. & N. CO. (Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co.) Bridge over the Willamette River, the Steel Bridge is the second oldest vertical-lift bridge still in operation in the United States. Begun in 1910 and completed in 1911, this through-truss double-deck bridge crosses the Willamette River at Portland, OR.
Designed by Waddell & Harrington, the direct predecessor firm to H&H, the bridge has a 212-foot vertical lift span (and a total length of 800 feet) and was constructed using 150-foot deep dredged piers. Completed at the cost of $1.5M, it is a neighbor to the Hawthorne Bridge, a still-working Waddell & Harrington design.
The Travel Portland website calls the bridge “visually distinct,” saying it “rises like an epic-scale erector set” above the river. The bridge is celebrated in a 2012 book published by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, titled Steel over the Willamette. Today’s bridge carries everything from pedestrians and bicyclists, to automobiles and trucks, to MAX Light Rail trains and so remains a key part of Portland’s transportation network more than 100 years after it first opened.
The Steel Bridge profile is part of H&H’s on-going celebration of our heritage as we approach our 135th Anniversary.