Alaska Roads photos -- Million Dollar Bridge

These two photos are of the "Million Dollar Bridge," a historic bridge east of Cordova, Alaska at the end of the Copper River Highway (southern segment of state route 10). I took these photos on my summer 1994 vacation, on a van tour from Cordova to the bridge and the nearby Miles and Childs glaciers. The bridge then still reflected the serious damage suffered during the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, which dropped one bridge span into the Copper River, as well as the temporary ramp drivers could use to get to a short 4x4 road on the other side. The bridge has since been repaired (I don't have photos of the bridge post-restoration), though there still isn't really very much to go to after crossing the river.

The bridge was completed in 1910, as a one-track railroad bridge to carry ore trains between the Kennicott copper mines and Cordova harbor. It was quite an engineering challenge, since it had to "thread the needle" between the Childs and Miles glaciers (then much closer than they are now), and icebergs floating downstream from the Miles glacier in the summer forced construction crews to do much of their work in the winter. After the copper mines closed in 1938, work began on converting the old trackbed into a highway, but the Good Friday earthquake damaged both the bridge and much of the old roadbed north to Chitina, and that segment may never be opened to auto travel (the remainder of the trackbed is now the Copper River Highway west of the Million Dollar Bridge, and the McCarthy Road from Chitina to a few miles west of the old Kennicott mines).

NOTE: In case you want more detail, you can click any photo below to view an enlarged, higher-quality (less .jpg compression) version. Those alternate versions have larger file sizes, so please be patient while they download.

Million Dollar Bridge, showing temporary transition between intact southern spans and collapsed northern span

This photo from the middle of the northernmost most-or-less-intact span shows the span that collapsed into the river, and the temporary transition between the two spans.

At the southern end of the collapsed span, a temporary wooden road surface goes about halfway down the span, to the temporary ramp back up to the north shore of the river.
Collapsed northern span of Million Dollar Bridge, with pedestrians on temporary ramp up to ground level at old northern end of bridge

Alaska Roads main page (under construction as of October 2007, but has some useful information and links)

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© Oscar Voss 1994, 2005-2007.