Can a bridge burn down? The answer is yes. I learned of the event from the July 2008 Mountain Gazette. Even though the photo was there in front of me, even though the words on the page explained how it happened, I stared on in disbelief. I read the last paragraph again, and yet again to make sure I had the facts straight. I read the entire story again to make sure it was the same Dewey Bridge I knew. While I never crossed the old bridge out of necessity, nor other than on foot, I knew it well. When I arrived there I would always drive across the new bridge slowly, turn towards the original and park for a brief break, walking across it, or to the pit toilet conveniently located near it. Then I would walk down to the river and muddy my feet. This was the ritual before driving on into the canyon.
Now the functional, old bridge is gone. Williams refers to it as a skeleton. Perfect word. Nothing more needs to be said.
The Moab Times-Independent on 31 July, 2008 reported that the Grand County Historical Commission gave a 1000 dollar grant which will be added to other funds provided by the state of Utah, the Dewey Bridge maintenance fund, and private donations to conduct a study regarding the rebuilding of the bridge. The study will examine the metal structure of the bridge that remains to assess if it is strong enough to warrant a complete rebuilding. Another option mentioned in the article is to rebuild the bridge soley as a bike crossing along the Kokopelli Trail.
It was recently noted that I lack a photo of Dewey Bridge in its original form. I was browsing photos on Google Earth a while back and found the photo below. The photographer has graciouly allowed me to post it here to allow for comparison. She took this photo back in the 1980's when the bridge was still in use and the only way to cross the river and continue on into Moab. Thanks Nancy! Note that both photos are taken from the same side of the river.
The photo below shows Dewey Bridge in April of 2007, on my son Nicolai's first visit to the bridge, and Utah. The bridge was in great shape at that point, with much restoration work having been done to it.