||Dewey Bridge Fund
On April 15, 2008 the Grand County Council authorized the Grand County Historic Preservation Commission to organize and raise funds to conduct a study regarding the restoration of the Dewey Bridge, partially destroyed in a fire. The study will examine the integrity of the remaining steel structure and cost estimates to reconstruct Dewey Bridge.
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Matching Contributions Needed to Secure Challenge Donation for Completion of Construction Plans
The Dewey Bridge Restoration Committee has announced a challenge donation pledge of $1500 towards completion of the construction drawings needed for the project. This challenge pledge will be deposited with the Grand County Clerk upon receipt of an additional $2,700 in donations. Together these funds will enable completion of the engineering plans needed for the construction phase of the project. The modern drawings will be based upon the original plans for the historic Dewey Bridge produced in 1915 and provide the guidance necessary for restoring the bridge to its historic appearance. Contributions are tax deductible and may be mailed to the Dewey Bridge Fund, Grand County Clerk, Grand County Courthouse, 125 East Center Street, Moab, Utah 84532.
Sunset at Dewey Bridge
Photo Courtesy of
Rim Rock Road Runners
Cattle Drive Across Dewey Bridge
After proudly spanning the Colorado River for 92 years, the historic Dewey Bridge was tragically consumed by a fire in 2008.
Why is Dewey Bridge important to southeastern Utah and western Colorado?
Built in 1916, Dewey Bridge connected a then still remote and isolated southeastern Utah with Grand Junction, the region’s largest city and distribution center. With its status as the first long term connection between the two regions, its exceptionally long service, and listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Dewey Bridge has play a special role in our area’s development and history. Until the fire, Dewey Bridge was a popular visitor location, a main feature of the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway and served as the eastern gateway to the Moab area.
What is significant about the design of Dewey Bridge?
The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in Utah until the fire in April 2008. The design featured an all wooden deck measuring 502 feet long but just 8 feet wide from rail to rail. In 1912 Grand County unsuccessfully petitioned the state to finance the construction of a bridge. Grand County then held a bond election, and was able to raise $25,000 to finance the construction of a bridge. The county employed the Midland Bridge Company of Kansas City, Missouri to build a modern, durable structure.
Plans originally called for the bridge deck to be 12 feet (3.7 m) wide, but with the bonds not producing the expected yields, the deck width was scaled down to 8 feet. When it was built, Dewey Bridge was the second longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi River exceeded only by the 600 foot long steel bridge across the Little Colorado River at Cameron Arizona built by the Midland Bridge Company in 1911. Reflecting commercial activity at the time, the 92 year old Dewey Bridge was designed to support the weight of six horses, three wagons, and 9,000 pounds of freight.
How much of the original Dewey Bridge is left after the fire?
The most significant parts of the bridge, including the two towers supporting the suspension cables, were unaffected by the fire. The main suspension cables, cable anchors, and foundations were also unaffected. Far more of the bridge remains than was destroyed.
Can Dewey Bridge be restored?
Definitely. From commencement to completion, the bridge engineer advising the Grand County Historic Preservation Commission estimates that it will take a five-person crew five months to restore the bridge once the steel rods and fasteners are custom built and the lumber is milled and delivered. This time estimate was developed in consultation with a Grand Junction construction firm with experience in both modern bridge construction (e.g., the new highway 128 bridge over Castle Creek) and historic bridge restoration including a project now underway near Fruita.
Will it still be Dewey Bridge after the restoration?
Yes, the suspension towers, main suspension cables, cable anchors, and approaches will all be original. The portions consumed or damaged by the fire, the wooden decking and timbers, and the cable hangers and rods will be fabricated following the original plans. Upon completion of the project, the bridge will look just about the same as it it did before the fire except that visitors will again walk across wooden deck timbers instead of the asphalt that was not part of the original design. Far more radical restorations are still considered to be historic structures. For example, the White House was burned to a charred ruin by the British in 1812 and completely rebuilt. By 1949, the building was in danger of collapse and only “standing from habit” as one inspector phrased it. Over a three year period, President Truman gutted its interior and presided over the installation of a modern steel and concrete support structure while being careful to retain the building’s exterior appearance. Historic covered bridges in the eastern states, have burned and been rebuilt.
What will it cost to restore Dewey Bridge?
The engineer advising the Grand County Historical Preservation Commission, who completed the engineering for the 1998 restoration project, estimates that it will cost $746,000 to restore the bridge including engineering. After construction, the bridge will need to be painted for a total estimated project cost of $862,000.
What responsibility does the family of the child who set the fire have to help with costs?
Grand County, the owner of the bridge, is not seeking damages or restitution. The family has expressed remorse.
What will be done to prevent another wild fire from destroying the restored bridge?
The BLM has agreed to assist with future fuel reduction on the public lands adjacent to the bridge. The Grand County Historic Preservation Commission is also considering treatments to prevent plant growth under the bridge. An example would be tilling cement into the soil under the bridge and wetting it to make a natural appearing “soil cement” that would retard future plant growth.
Who is leading the campaign to restore Dewey Bridge?
The Grand County Historical Preservation Commission, the same Grand County entity that led the project to renovate the bridge in 1998, is coordinating the restoration project. The Commission is acting through its Dewey Bridge Restoration Committee.
What initial goals have been set for the restoration project?
- The first goal requiring action is to complete the construction drawings that will guide the restoration work. The Dewey Bridge Restoration Committee has nearly raised the $5,000 necessary to contract for the construction drawings.
- A second goal is to establish an interpretive exhibit at the bridge site to inform visitors about the bridge, its history, and the restoration campaign.
- The third interim goal is to raise 20% ($172,000) of the reconstruction cost. Completion of this goal will enable the Dewey Bridge Restoration Committee to apply for matching fund grants from various sources.
How can I help with the restoration campaign?
Persons interested in the restoration campaign may join the Dewey Bridge Restoration Committee, call the committee to share fund raising ideas, volunteer to help with fund raising events, and make direct contributions to the project. For more information, please call Vicki Barker at 259-3686 or Russ von Koch at 259-1910.
Who will hold my donation while funds are being raised?
The Grand County Clerk’s office will hold funds raised for the project in a special account to be used only for the project. Contributions to the project are tax deductible. Please note that a donation form may be printed out...
Dewey Bridge Donation Form
Contributions should be mailed to Grand County Clerk, Grand County Courthouse, 125 East Center Street, Moab, Utah, 84532.
What fund raising strategy is being considered?
Given the fund raising challenges posed by the recession, the Dewey Bridge Restoration Committee is looking at non-traditional means of raising the funds needed to restore the bridge. The Committee is presently exploring what has been dubbed the “Dewey Dollar Challenge” which would involve raising the needed funding from work performed at home by elementary school children across the country. Kids in this age group would learn about fire safety and make a home fire safety plan, engage in fun on-line bridge related activities, virtually explore Dewey Bridge and its surrounding area, and earn “Dewey Dollars” by committing to perform extra tasks for their parents who would in turn forward make a donation to the Dewey Bridge Restoration Fund on behalf of the child. The program would thus combine fun activities, fire safety education, and personal responsibility while the kids raise the funds for the restoration project.
January 5, 2009 as modified March 10, 2009, June 14, 2009, and October 26, 2009
Dewey Bridge Donation Form
Contributions should be mailed to:
Grand County Clerk
Grand County Courthouse
125 East Center Street
Moab, Utah, 84532.
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