The Bridges of North America, Part 1:

Our good motorhome friends, Gordon and Karen, posted this note in their most recent blog: "When you talk about Yooper (upper Peninsula) Michigan, you basically talk about two things.  The Mackinac Bridge and Mackinac Island.  A Yooper told me that the Mackinac Bridge is the most beautiful bridge in the world.  I didn't tell him that we were from Golden Gate Bridge country, so he is still happy and we are still smug."

This excellent posting inspired us to present to you The Bridges of North America.  We reviewed our 70,000 photos from the last eight years to find the many bridges we crossed and photographed.  We skipped those of no interest but still had 166 bridges to show.  We whittled this group down to about 100 and couldn't seem go further. Thus we broke this travelogue into two parts.  Let's get started.

[Editor's Note: This is a long post. The beauty of presenting travelogues using photos and text versus a video is that in seconds you can skip the text, you can skip the photos, you can skip both and you are done as quickly as you want to be. Or you can read the entire post, get educated and enjoy these amazing bridge creations.]

First up, the Mackinac Bridge.  It is definitely a beautiful bridge.  Gordon and Karen and our other favorite motorhome traveling buddies, Ben and Sid have both been to the bridge, but we have not. So this photo is not from us, but from Google Images.  (We rarely show anything other than our own images, but needed to this time.)  Is it the most beautiful bridge in the world?  We'll took a look at a hundred other photos and let you be the judge.

The Sun Dial bridge in Redding, California.  This walking  bridge is piece of art and wow! how it lights up at night.

What could more beautiful to a American than the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts.  This is from where the Revolutionary War "shot heard round the world" initiated.

Bridge construction is fascinating.  There is so many different ideas in how to support the weight: piers, suspension, arch bridge, through arch bridge, cable-stayed, covered, moveable, rope, trestle, truss bridges and more. 1) This Maine bridge at the Piscataqua River is a "through arch" bridge.  2) This "truss bridge" is on Washington state Hwy 17 north of Moses Lake.

1) The bridge at Downieville, California on Hwy 70 is just wide enough for the Mothership to pass through and still keep the paint on its sides. 2) This walking bridge is on the path to the Feather Falls east of Oroville, California. The bridge style here is "Early American Tree-Crushed Beam Bridge'.

When your hike approaches Feather Falls this bridge gives you the great straight-on view of this magnificent falls.

Per Wikipedia the term "London Bridge" actually refers to the number of bridges in London that cross the Thames River. However, due to the great marketing abilities of Robert McCulloch, the creator of Lake Havasu City, most will think of this bridge that was dismantled in London in 1967 and rebuilt in Arizona in 1971.

1) Christine Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park is the final falls on the Van Trump Creek and is viewed nicely through this stone arch bridge. 2) Another arch bridge, this time made of steel, is on California Hwy 70 between Paradise and Quincy.

1) Okay, okay, so Delicate Arch is not a bridge. Well, it could have been during the Big Flood!  2) This second arch bridge in Arches National Park would be a lot easier to walk over than Delicate.

The Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon, is a gorgeous combination of "arch bridges" and a "through the arch" bridge.

1) Rainbow Bridge spans the Niagara River gorge allowing passage from the US to Canada and back. 2 ) This "stayed-cable" bridge is on US Highway 70 in Ohio.  A stayed-cable bridge supports the weight of the bridge from a single tower.  Cables on one side of the tower support the weight from the other side.  While looking similar to a suspension bridge only one tower is required.

This truss style bridge at cousins Jeff and Mary Ellen's home in Piqua, Ohio, holds only 10 tons.  The MotherShip weights 17 tons. However the bridge is short and only one axle would be on the bridge at one time. So we took a chance and yes, we made it over and back.

These two bridges connect Sacramento, California, to West Sacramento, crossing over, you guessed it, the Sacramento River.  Both bridges allow for taller ships to pass through.  1) The Tower Bridge is for autos and is "vertical lift" bridge which has a section between two towers that raises and lowers when ship need to pass.  2) The I Street bridge is for trains.  It is a "swing bridge". The center section of the bridge turns 90 degrees allowing ship passage and then turns back to line up the rails.

1) A simple suspension bridge allows Ellen to cross the Virgin River in Utah without getting her feet wet.  2) The truss bridge in Methow, Washington, had no problem supporting the MotherShip's 33,000 lbs.

The Belle Louisville paddle-wheel river boat slips under the truss-style Clark Memorial bridge on the Ohio River.

Beebe Bridge is a "through the arch" bridge spanning the Columbia River at Chelan Falls, Washington.

1) The Lions Gate (suspension) Bridge crosses the First Narrows of the Burrard Inlet connecting Vancouver, British Columbia to North Vancouver. 2) Almost twin "through the arch" Tennessee bridges on Hwy 24.

1) This walking bridge spans Canada's Sea to Sky Highway; this highway takes you from Vancouver to Whistler, the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  2) This stone arch walking bridge gets your golf cart across the man-made waterways of the Motorcoach Country Club Resort in Indio, California.

You got us again, the Gateway to the West is an arch, not a bridge.  But then again, you could travel up the elevator on one leg and down on the other, so it is a bridge!

The "Old Suspension Bridge" in Lilliooet, British Columbia.  It was originally built in the 1910's to replace the "winch ferry" used to cross the Fraser River.  Today it is a walking/biking bridge and a historical landmark.

Both of these bridges are truss style: 1) This on on Hwy 99 between Whistler and Lilliooet, British Columbia.  2) The second bridge leads to Parkfield, California, home of the "Big One", the predicted next big earthquake in California.

1) A "Lift Bridge" on the Clearwater River, Lewiston, Idaho.  2) You can cross the Clark Fort River in Montana on this "Continuous span girder bridge".

1) Its a short walk on this Fargo, North Dakota, person bridge.  2) A Chicago draw bridge, one of 47 bridges on the Chicago River.

The Alaskan Highway starts in Dawson Creek, BC, and ends at Delta Junction, Alaska.  It passes innumerable lakes and rivers.  1) Bridge between Fort Nelson, BC and Watson Lake, Yukon.  2) Teslin River Bridge, Teslin, British Columbia.

1) A gorgeous wooden arch bridge on South Dakota Hwy 16a, on the way to Mount Rushmore.  2) Can you find the bridge in this photo?

1) Colorado's Hwy 40 arch bridge over the Yampa River.  2) This temporary bridge heading out of East St. Louis, Missouri, leaves about 12 inches of space on each side of the MotherShip.

1) This narrow one line bridge takes you from Washington State Highway 20 across the Skagit River to the Newhalem Campground.  How to you know it can hold the weight of the MotherShip?  We have learned over the years how to interpret weight limits.  If a sign says, for example "No Trucks over 10 tons", it does not prohibit a bus or motorhome.  If it said "No Vehicle over 10 tons", then that means us. Unmarked bridges "will hold the weight" of any vehicle.  So, no problem here, we crossed with ease.

2) However, all bets are off on a homemade bridge.  In 2006, our first year, our GPS took us down a road that turned from two-lane asphalt, to two-lane gravel to one lane with trees so close that they scratched one side of our motorhome. Finally we arrived at this "bridge".  The MotherShip was brand new and we did not want to scratch it anymore so we wanted to proceed.  However, we also did not want to crush this bridge and overturn into the creek and thus decided to turn around.  Luckily, while the road was single width, we were at a fork in the road and we were able to back into the fork, turn around and scratch the other side of the MotherShip.  Yep, lucky us!

And finally the Golden Gate, built in 1933.  We have crossed this bridge in the motorhome home many times and have a dozen photos.  But this is another photo from Google Images.  We selected this perspective for your comparison to the Mackinac Bridge photo.

So which bridge is the most beautiful in the world? All bridges get you to a place unreachable without the bridge or save your lots of mileage.  So to us, "all bridges are beautiful".

Don't make your decision yet, wait for Part 2 next week.

Love, Pete, Ellen and Mandy

[P.S. We have signed a house rental agreement with what appears to be a wonderful Christian family of six. So who knows, maybe we will travel again!]

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