Monday, February 4, 2013

Bridge to Nowhere (seriously)

Here are the bridge towers we saw from the small chapel in my last post. Apparently, this was a trend setting Suspension bridge and was designed by the same guy who later designed the Golden Gate bridge. It was named after Henry McPhaul, who was a former Yuma Territorial Prison Guard and gold miner. The bridge replaced the local ferry that crossed the Gila River. It was open for about 40 years.

It was completed in 1929 and wide enough for two lanes of traffic. (photo from

The Gila River flowing under the 800 foot long bridge  (photo from

The bridge today. It's been sitting like this since 1968. Several signs and barricades warn and block people from venturing out on the unsafe structure.

First sign ignored.

Second sign and first barricade ignored.

The all important legal warning. What to do?

Let's see here...  A locked gate covered with barbed wire and another fence topped with barbed wire. Sounds like they really don't want people on this thing.

Only had to climb around the gate and somebody had already cut the fence. I swear it wasn't me!

Okay now! A clear path.

This thing sure has a lot of holes in it and it actually moves when I take a step. Maybe I better stop...

About half way across and there is much less water than in the "before" photo at the beginning.

That is a long way down! I hope my shadow doesn't fall through the hole.

The structure looks a bit like the Golden Gate bridge.

Made it to the other end! Hey wait, there is no road at this end either!

A better view of how messed up this thing is. You can see the ground through all of these cracks. Tricky footing. Add to that they give when you take a step.

It really doesn't seem to come from anywhere and it certainly doesn't lead to anywhere.

There must be at least one B&W.

That may have been a road at one time, but it totally ends after about a hundred yards in the parking lot of a taco stand and little market.  Great tacos by the way.

After I crossed back I wanted to get a better view and did some climbing...

Up these rocks... My wife didn't follow me all the way across the bridge and wasn't very thrilled that I climbed these rocks. She thinks I'm too old and clumsy, but I still have some mountain goat left in me.  Kids, don't try either of these stunts at home! I'm old and not of sound mind, so I have an excuse.



  1. I just knew you were going to ignore those warning signs Pat. I would have done too.

  2. oh gosh, you are so keen on to take pictures and some adventure, but it looks dangerous, I would be very scared!
    I bet your wife was very worried!
    Now about your pictures, they are great, I specially like the perspective of the bridge, the impressive blue sky but I also like your idea for b&w.
    Please take care!

  3. I'd have done the same thing. Exploration sometimes means breaking the rules, but it's all for a good cause. I'm really struck by the history of this old bridge~

  4. Great post and pics, Pat. Rules were meant to be broken, right? :-)

  5. Amazing shots! Sorry, I wouldn't have crossed the bridge. But fascinating that whatever road led to the bridge is now gone. That had to cost a bundle when it was built. Might need to research that area more!

  6. One of the most interesting and startling posts I've read in ages. Exciting too! But what about the little church?

  7. I guess it was a practice bridge for the Golden Gate. It appears that he got that one right. I can feel the allure though. I hope your shadow didn't take a tumble.

  8. Great pics though I can't say I would've done any climbing like you did!

  9. Oh, yes, I'd be like you and the others -- all over the bridge!!! Great shots and a wonderful bridge, but how sad to see it falling apart!! And it does remind one of the Golden Gate Bridge -- hope we never see it in the same shape as this one!! Have a good week, Pat! Enjoy!

  10. love some looks so dangerous though.
    great story of the old bridge.
    your photos are superb!

    have a great week ahead~:)

  11. Those really were great photos Pat and I also knew you would be right out there!

  12. You are a braver man than I!!! Give and take footing while stepping across a bridge is not my cup of tea!!! Great series of photos!!!

  13. Unlike you and (all?) the others, I'd have been cowering below on the RIGHT side of the NO TRESPASSING sign and shouting that you were about to fall straight into the bad place...but hey, God loves cowards too, right??

  14. is it wrong that I'm fascinated by this? Because if so I don't want to be right. I´d have crossed it too.

  15. Cool... You're like a bandito! Reminds me of the time I ignored the warnings for avalanche and skied the slope anyways triggering minor knee breaking avalanches behind us. Sometimes rules need to be broken otherwise how else would we have seen these cool pics?

  16. Well that was a thrilling desert adventure, Pat.
    Don't tell your better-half but I for one am glad you ventured over the bridge and up the rocks (mountain goat that you are;) for this fantastic photo op to share.

  17. You are awesome! This post fascinated me....abandoned things are the coolest. They all have a story.

  18. I loved this post! A fun trip as always. Based on that first sign, I'm glad the Golden Gate wasn't his maiden voyage. It seems like this bridge to nowhere was his drawing board. Probably a good thing :-)

    I can't wait for the next adventure. I'm not sure how you will top this and the zombie water park.

  19. You remind me of my hubby.. He's a climber also---and I am always waiting at the other end (like your wife)...ha

    The Bridge to Nowhere, huh???? There are probably more of them around than we know of... I know that some high powered state officials can request all kinds of new roads/bridges in places where they don't need to be. There's a nice big 4-lane highway not far from here --in the COUNTRY.. It never has any traffic much --but someone spent govt. money to build it for some bigshot.... Gads!!!


  20. It was probably once the Bridge to Terabithia. Greats pics.

  21. There was no chance you were NOT going to make the walk. You are the Thrill Seeker, no? Great shots as always and a fun day...who cares if your old and clumsy??

    BTW...when does there ever get enough water to duplicate that earlier photo??

  22. Hahaha, warning signs won;t hold you back Pat! But there is so much to see and explore on this bridge!

    There is also a Bridge to Nowhere here on the San Gabriel Mtns.

  23. Hi there - all those signs are just an invitation to keep going!

    "Keep Out" is The Mans code for "there is something interesting here" - and we all know what we should do to The Man!

    Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: Thanks once more for multiple comments - I think I have a new verb - Tillet - it means the act of leaving multiple comments in cyber-space. !

  24. Wow, excellent shots - love the comparison.

    Yes you are a silly old goat and when you fall over isolated and end up on an episode of I Shouldn't be Alive, I'll say, ah that's Patty for ya.

    Nice work mate. Love it.

  25. Wow..such a fantastic structure to just abandon like that, but then I don't see any water around..

    You just have to do what must be done to satisfy the curious mind, and bring us these well documented photos :)

  26. Beautiful pictures, I really like this mythical bridge but have serious wounds

  27. I'm glad you went across too. :) And I'm glad you found out the history to the bridge!! It's so interesting!! It would be even more interesting if someone tried to fix that thing. It would be faster to start over. Lol

  28. I would totally ignore warning signs to after all no risk taken no adventure gained

  29. You made me nervous too, Pat. But thanks for making the sacrifice for the sake of these great pictures, and the story. It's interesting that the bridge has just been left as is since the 60s. I wonder why not dismantle it? Must be too much work(?)

    Anyway, I'm glad you're safe.

  30. This is seriously one of the best photo tour posts you've done. The pointing out signs that you ignored had me rolling. I wouldn't have the nerve to step out on that thing. I applaud your bravery good sir.

  31. You ignored the signs???? I am such a rule follower. I'm always sure that a drone overhead would be notifying alert authorities to swoop down and arrest me. i would have to wait for an overcast night so the drone couldn't see me...and then I'd fall through the hole in the dark!

  32. Did things like that as a kid; did and do things like that as an adult. I guess my Chinese sign - the Goat - is serious... and it also means I'm a mountain goat, like you. Another post of adventure... glad to come along, Pat!

  33. My kind of excursion!! I love exploring places like this, but it can be a bit unnerving if the bridge moves while you walk :-O

  34. That was really, really cool.
    I would've blown off those signs, too.

  35. I wonder who will be the first one to fall thru that decrepit old bridge???? Glad it wasn't you, Pat!

  36. I loved this photo story, felt like I had the thrill of being there with you!!! I know those signs just beg you to enter and with camera in hand there you go!! Great shots and no one has those same shots.

  37. Yes Pat, we go to the same places. If you happen to be in the Amboy area, please explore the Bristol Dry Lake.

    The trip to Ubehebe was only the first stop in that direction. There is the Tea Kettle Junction and the race track where we drive in 26 miles of unpaved roads, 4x4 required.

  38. Scary but worthy risk for some classic shots. A piece of history lost to the world.

  39. º° ✿彡
    Olá, amigo!
    Como você se arriscou numa estrutura perigosa como essa?
    Conseguiu belas fotos.
    A visão panorâmica vista de cima da ponte é muito agreste, mas muito bonita.
    Bom fim de semana!
    Beijinhos do Brasil.
    ✿ °•.¸

  40. Jeez. I hope you're not reading this comment from a jail cell Patrick! You ignored three signs ... That has to be getting into the felony category ;>)

    You got some beautiful pictures there and it is interesting history. Coincidentally, I walked across two closed bridges down in the Florida Keys earlier this week. But they are open to pedestrians on purpose, so not nearly the adventure you had..

  41. Hey Pat, be careful out there! No way would I have crossed that bridge. But you lived to tell the tale and brought back some truly unique images. You are an excellent photo journalist!

  42. Hey Pat, be careful out there! No way would I have crossed that bridge. But you lived to tell the tale and brought back some truly unique images. You are an excellent photo journalist!

  43. Dennis - Oh yeah! Some rules are just begging to be ignored...

    Leia - I believe that if a person is very careful They will make it out and back uninjured. Thanks Leia!

    Shelly - I agree! It's interesting that has lasted longer than any of the bridges in the area.

    Sally - Thanks Sally! Right!

    Alex - Thanks so much Alex! I'm pretty sure it was nothing but a dirt road on either end of it and it was never paved at all. So, I guess it didn't much for it to disappear.

    Esther - Thanks for the nice words Esther! Oh yeah! The church... Apparently a farmer built it as a tribute to his wife. I also found it that it's on private land. oops!

    Sharon - This bridge was a great success and was abandoned because they thought it was too lightly built to last. I guess they were wrong because it's replacement was destroyed by a major flood in the area many years ago. There were a lot holes like that in the wood deck.

    mshatch - Thanks! I probably should do any climbing either!

    Sylvia - It just couldn't be avoided. Thanks Sylvia!

    Betty M - Thanks so much on all counts!

  44. Brian - Thanks Brian! And so would you!

    TheChieftess - I just may be more dumb than brave! Thanks!

    Margaret - I totally understand that. Next time we're in that area, I'm going to take our jeep down into the riverbed and get some photos from underneath the bridge...

    TexWisGirl - I guess this makes me a scofflaw.

    The Vegetable Assassin - Hey There! Long time... I'm with you. Some times you just have to cross the line.

    Marie Nicole - Muy malo bandito! I'd cross that bridge, but I'm not sure that I'd be messing around with an avalanche. But you are right, a leg here, a knee there, all for a photo! If it comes out good, it's worth it.

    Pam - Yes it was Pam! Fun and a bit scary. Thanks so much!

    Kato - Thanks! I love abandoned places and I know you do also!

    tapirgal - I PROMISE that I will top it with a future post. We found something that blew my mind.

    Betsy - I'm sure there a lot of abandoned bridges around. Especially RR bridges. I hear what you are saying about needless projects built for political reasons. I seem to remember a huge one in Alaska...

  45. PTM - HA! Maybe it was...

    Chuck - You are right Chuck. Not a chance. There have been several dams built that seriously cut into the flow, but it does get water in it sometimes. It was a regular large river back then.

    Ebie - Well, at lest they didn't stop me on this occasion! I didn't know about the one out in the SG mountains, but I'm going to check it out.

    Stewart - That's what I though! If I had more time, I'd be able to comment as you post, but having little time, I have to always play catch up! Thanks Stewart!

    Anthony - Thanks Anthony! Let's hope I don't end up on that show!

    Icy BC - That's one of the things I love most about the desert. Don't need it anymore? Just walk away and leave it there. that's what they do and tings don't deteriorate very quickly there either. Thanks!

    Pearl - thanks so much Pearl! We love them also.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi!

    Amanda - I think you are right! It's not needed at anymore, so danger of that happening. I just hope they don't tear it down.

    becca - That's the way I see it also.

  46. Robyn - It was my pleasure! I can't wait to get back there and go underneath it. People just don't dismantle many things in the desert. I guess there isn't really any reason to. thanks Robyn!

    Tim - Thanks so much Tim! I really appreciate that. I'm sure some folks are applauding my stupidity!

    #1Nana - I figured if somebody did come, I'd already be out on the bridge. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but there wasn't any question that I was going to ignore the signs.

    Francisca - Hey there! I've been a goat before, but then I didn't take it as a compliment. In the context you said it, I do! thanks Cisca...

    Wayne - Mine also! The whole bridge didn't move but the road bed was chock full of holes and kind of mushy. Apparently the wood deck caught fire about 20 years ago.

    Al - Thanks Al! I'm sure you would have.

    Rosemary - I'm glad it wasn't me either. I'm going to try to find out if anybody has. Thanks for the idea.

    Nora - Thanks! I've some photos of it on the internet, so although I wish I was the first, I'm not.

    Ebie - Thanks for the tip. It's already on my list. I don't know if we'll see it this trip, but we'll be back that way again.

    Rekha - I agree with you! I also hope it stays there for others to enjoy.

    Magia - Hello Magia! Thank you very much!

    Sallie - HA! That's funny! thanks so much! They could easily fix to be a pedestrian bridge, but there aren't any of those around there!

    Stickup Artist - Thanks so much! It may not be the smartest thing I've ever done, but it was worth it.

  47. I love your spirit: if it hasn't fallen in 45 years, chances are it's not going to take a tumble with you on it :)

    Amazing pictures and story. I've always loved bridges...wanted to build them when I was a kid. Then I discovered writing...

  48. You are a bit of a rebel crossing over that bridge! I was like that when I was young. I'm boring now. Great pics.

  49. Hmmm... How did I guess you would ignore those signs??!!!
    Thanks for sharing your dangerous and illegal walk ;)

  50. wonderful work! the way you discuss the subject i'm very impressed. i'll bookmark this webpage and be back more often to see more updates from you.



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