The post card shown above, shows the railroad bridge at Celilo Falls, long before the construction of The Dalles Dam. Easily visible is a portion of the Celilo Canal, which opened for use in 1915, and the State Portage railroad. The present town of Wishram, WA., is a short distance upstream from this bridge.

The Oregonian, Portland, OR., January 6, 1912, page 10
Includes photographs

Oregon Trunk's Viaduct Spanning Columbia Names as Wine Wets Steel
Wife of Engineer, Who Watched Giant Viaduct Rise, Blesses It. Trains to Cross Structure Today - Time to Bend Cut.

     "With this token I christen this bridge 'Celilo' and pray that happiness and prosperity may be the chief fruits of its existence," spoke Mrs. H.M. Harps yesterday afternoon, as she broke a bottle of wine against the massive steel frame of the Oregon Trunk's new $1,000,000 bridge across the Columbia River and gave Portland another direct railroad with Central Oregon.
     Mrs. Harps, wife of the engineer who had charge of construction, performed her notable service in the presence of Carl R. Gray, president of the road, and a party of railroad officials and newspaper men who had made the trip from Portland purposely to witness the ceremony.
     The wind blew almost a gale through this canyon that the Columbia has carved out of the Cascades and made the young woman's words inaudible except to those who stood nearest her. She clung to the side of President Gray's private car with one hand as she faced the chill wind and reached out to strike the heavy superstructure with the other. There was no speech-making and no further ceremony, but unanimous congratulations for Mr. Gray and the Oregon Trunk that another of the principal objects of their development campaign in Oregon has been accomplished.

Sponsor Watched Bridge Rise

     It was particularly fitting that Mrs. Harps should have been chosen to act as sponsor, for she has seen the bridge rise from a mere engineer's drawing to its present magnificent completed form. She accompanied her husband to Celilo from Chicago when he first took charge of the work two years ago. In the subsequent days and weeks she heard much concerning the task. Then she watched it grow from an outline of false work through its various stages of development. She saw the granite and concrete piers rise in their places and watched the giant pieces of steel fabricated into shape. Through her close association with the work of her husband she developed a personal pride in the undertaking, and not even President Gray was more pleased than she that the great undertaking had been completed successfully.
     Following the dedication Mr. Gray's car with all on board was taken a short distance up the Deschutes Canyon. The bridge work had been so well and so completely done that Mr. Gray and W.E. Coman, general freight and passenger agent, decided to inaugurated regular service over it today.

Bend Reached Earlier

     The Oregon passenger, leaving Portland at 8:20 A.M., hereafter will be continued through as a solid train to Bend instead of stopping at Fallbridge, the present terminus, and arriving at Bend at 6:10 P.M.. instead of 8:30 o'clock. Corresponding time will be saved at intermediate points. Portland passengers may leave on the Inland Empire express at 9:55 a.m. and make connections with the Central Oregon train at Fallbridge. Eastbound, the train will leave Bend at 6:30 a.m., the same as at present, and arrive in Portland at 5:30 p.m.
     How the temperature and wind velocity affected the work of construction is illustrated in two incidents that occurred within the last few weeks. When the heavy steel pieces were hoisted to their places the wind was so strong that arrangements had to be made to overcome its force. In doing this the engineers calculated that the wind pressure against a single steel beam was five tons. When the two ends of the principal span were brought together in the middle after they had been carried gradually from either end, the cold weather had contracted the steel so that there remained an inch of open space between them. A huge fire was built, heating and expanding the steel so that it could be bolted together.

Project Scares Indians

     At the place where the bridge spans the river Indians have been wont to camp and fish for many years. They were skeptical from the first time that they learned of the plans. As they saw it taking definite shape some of them became superstitions and declared that an evil influence was at work. Some actually deserted the grounds.
     Those who accompanied Mr. Gray yesterday were: WE. Coman, general freight and passenger agent of the North Bank and Oregon Trunk; J.P. Rogers, superintendent; A.D. Charlton, assistant general passenger agent of the Northern Pacific; F.H. Fogarty, assistant general freight agent of the Northern Pacific; M.J. Costello, of Seattle; assistant traffic manager of the Great Northern; George H. Smitton, assistant general freight agent of the Great Northern; Frank W. Graham, general Western industrial and immigration agent of the Great Northern; O.C. Leiter, city editor of The Oregonian; Philip Bates, of the Pacific Northwest; Hugh Hume, of the Spectator; F.H. Kiser, official photographer; J.L. Wallin, of the Journal, and Shad O. Krantz, of The Oregonian.

River 3500 Feet Wide

     The structure passes the directly over Celilo Falls. The river is approximately 3500 feet wide at this point. The bridge crosses it practically at right angles, and near the north end its branches with two curves to connect with the main line of the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway, to the east for trains running directly between Central Oregon and Spokane, and to the west by another curve for direct movements between Central Oregon and Portland.
     Leaving the North Bank Road the bridge rises at the rate of 25 feet to the mile across the river, and near the south shore crosses over Celilo Canal, which now is under construction, the State Portage Railroad, and the O.W.R. & N. tracks. Just south of the bridge the track turns to the east and traverses the the south bank of the Columbia River for about two miles till it reaches of the mouth of the Deschutes River, where it turns to the south and follows up the Deschutes River into Central Oregon.
     The bridge is a single-track structure, built entirely of steel, resting on a sub-structure consisting of piers and abutments built of concrete and granite.
     A remarkable feature in connection with its location is that the foundations rest on solid rock which is entirely exposed at low stages of water, usually from about September 1 to March 1, and for the rest of the year the water creates such a rapids that it is impractical either to do concrete work or to place falsework for bridge erection. The first period of low water after active construction of the Oregon Trunk started, September, 1909, to March, 1910, was consumed in making surveys for the bridge location and for the preparation of maps to obtain an Act of Congress, which was passed March 2, 1910, authorizing construction of the bridge. Erection of superstructure was started May 11, 1911; the steel work connected up December 19, 1911, and riveting has now progressed sufficiently so that trains can begin using the bridge today.
     At its south end the bridge is 100 feet above the low water and 50 feet above ordinary high water. It is, however, only 25 feet above the high water of 1894.

One Span 316 Feet Long

     There are in all 29 piers and three abutments. The abutments are of concrete with granite bridge seats, four piers at the south end of the bridge are built entirely of concrete, and the other 25 years are of concrete with granite nose cones on both the up-stream and down-stream ends of the piers for full height. They also have a belting and coping course of granite. The piers are six feet wide under the coping and eight feet wide on top of the coping, except the eight piers which carry the truss spans, which raise eight feet six inches under the coping to 10 feet six inches and 12 on top. The pivot pier on the draw span over the Celilo Canal is octagonal, inscribed in a 30-foot square.
     A unique feature of the concrete and granite piers is that instead of having the entire pier encased with granite or even having the entire end beyond the corners faced with stone, the piers in this bridge have only a single nose cone at the extreme ends.
     The longest span of the bridge is 316 feet eight inches, and is just north of the draw span and where the main channel of the Columbia breaks over the falls. On account of this large channel it was impossible to place timber false work for the erection of this long span, and it was erected cantilever, the ends of the to halves being anchored back to the adjoining spans until they meet, in the same manner that the Crooked River bridge was erected.
     The east leg of the Y is 952.01 feet long, while the west end is 849.05 feet. The main tangent of the bridge from the junction of the two legs to the Oregon shore is 2396.11 feet, making the total length 4197.17 feet.

No Workmen Lose Lives

     The total amount of steel in the superstructure is 5000 tons. In the excavations for the sub-structure the following contents in cubic yards were handled: dry earth, 1734; wet earth, 202; solid rock, 5388; loose rock, 1321. The cubic yard age of concrete used was 28,134; of granite nose stones, 1208; of granite in coping and belting courses, 803. The steel reinforcing bars used in the concrete weighed 155, 300 pounds.
     No lives were lost during the construction of the entire bridge. The worst case of injury was to a man who fell from the deck of the bridge into a pool of water about two feet deep, 50 feet below. This cushioned his fall, so that he was not seriously injured, and he was able to be at work again in a short time.
     Direct operation of trains into Central Oregon over the new bridge will mark the passing of the Celilo ferry, which has been used since September, 1910, for handling construction material and later for commercial traffic, cars being taken across the river on barges handled by the steamer Norma, and passengers transferred from train to boat and then to train on the opposite side of the river.
     The sub-structure of the bridge was built by Porter Brothers, of Portland, and the superstructure was manufactured by the Pennsylvania Steel Company and was erected by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company, of Leavenworth, Kan. Ralph Modjeski, of Chicago, drew the plans and through Mr. Harps, had general supervision of construction. Ralph Budd, chief engineer for the Oregon Trunk, directed the work for the railroad.

The Dalles Optimist, The Dalles, OR., January 11, 1912, page 1


     Friday the first North Bank train crossed the Hill line's big bridge at Celilo. The train was President Karl R. Gray's private car drawn by one of the Oregon Trunk locomotives. A company of railway officials and Portland newspaper men were with President Gray. The special car was attached to an engine at Portland Friday noon and ran up to Fallbridge crossing the mile-long bridge and running up the Deschutes river canyon for a few miles and returning to Portland that evening. The bridge was found in such good condition that the railway president ordered the through train service to Bend to commence Saturday morning. Oregon Trunk traffic will be conducted over one of the strongest and most imposing bridges of the northwest. The ferry service of the old steamboat Norma was discontinued just in time as the river was rendered impossible by reason of ice and snow Saturday.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer