Lewis and Clark's Columbia River
Lewis & Clark's Columbia River - "200 Years Later"
"Pasco-Kennewick Railroad Bridge, Washington"
Includes ... Pasco-Kennewick Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge ...
Image, 2006, Pasco-Kennewick Railroad Bridge from Clover Island, Washington, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Pasco-Kennewick Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge, as seen from Clover Island. The Pasco-Kennewick "Cable Bridge" is in the foreground. Image taken September 29, 2006.

Pasco-Kennewick Northern Pacific Railroad Bridge ...
By 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad had completed a transcontinental line from Minnesota to Eastern Washington. They needed to cross the Columbia River and the spot they chose was upstream of the mouth of the Snake River, today the location of Pasco and Kennewick, Washington. The line would then follow the Yakima Valley and cross the Cascades at Stampede Pass.

"... Northern Pacific construction engineer J.T. Kingsbury concluded that the best place to cross the Columbia was four miles upriver from the Northern Pacific town of Ainsworth at the mouth of the Snake River. Since the existing track and town were four miles below the proposed crossing, the Northern Pacific built a new section of track to the crossing site, where it established the town of Pasco. Trains were ferried by steamer across the Columbia to Kennewick on the west bank until the bridge could be constructed. Doing so was a major engineering challenge. At high water, the river at the crossing point was almost a half mile wide and 45 feet deep, with a current of up to seven miles per hour. The Northern Pacificís finances were not strong, and the company opted against building a bridge with solid masonry piers and an all-iron superstructure. Instead, utilizing the timber that was abundant along its Cascade Branch line, the company designed a timber-and-iron superstructure resting on stone-filled crib piers of timber with nested-pile foundations. The bridge would consist of nine through-truss spans, five on the Pasco side and four on the Kennewick side, with a drawspan in the middle. The total length of the bridge was 2,587 feet. ..." [HistoryLink.com Website, 2006]

A temporary bridge was first built, which opened to trains on December 3, 1887. The permanent bridge was completed on July 14, 1888 and opened soon afterwards. A much-improved bridge remains in use today.

Image, 2005, Snake River from Sacajawea State Park, click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge
Kennewick's Cable Bridge, as seen from Sacajawea State Park. In the foreground is an old railroad bridge, still in use. Image taken September 25, 2005.

"The Golden Age of Postcards" ...

The early 1900s was the "Golden Age of Postcards", with the "Penny Postcard" being a popular way to send greetings to family and friends. Today the Penny Postcard has become a snapshot of history.

From the Journals of Lewis and Clark ...

Clark, ...

Snake River ConfluenceReturn to

*River Miles [RM] are approximate, in statute miles, and were determined from USGS topo maps, obtained from NOAA nautical charts, or obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, 2003


All Lewis and Clark quotations from Gary Moulton editions of the Lewis and Clark Journals, University of Nebraska Press, all attempts have been made to type the quotations exactly as in the Moulton editions, however typing errors introduced by this web author cannot be ruled out; location interpretation from variety of sources, including this website author.
September 2008