Historic Colorado River bridges

Historic Bridges Across the Grand/Colorado River

The four bridges above (Fruita, Dewey, RedRock, and All Trails bridges) are at the termini of our article on the Colorado River bridges, 833 miles from Fruita, Colorado, on the norheast, to Topock, Arizona (and Needles, California, across the river) on the southwest.

The Fruita bridge, in Fruita, Colorado, was built in 1907 across the Grand River (now named Colorado River - read about that in our Navajo Bridge History story) with an interesting story.  During its construction, the piers sank and tilted noticeably (visible above and in gallery photos), but they finished building the bridge anyway, and traffic crossed it safely until it was retired in 1970 when a new bridge was built to handle the increasing traffic on CO340.  It is still standing today with new piers, finished in 2010, and the floor has been stabilized.  There is no access to it - the old road leading to it is blocked.  There were plans to create a trail to connect the Colorado National Monument, Fruita, and Grand Junction, that included the bridge, but nothing came of it.  Sadly, a fire on July 9, 2019, substantially damaged the wooden floor of the bridge, presumably caused by a careless camper in a campground under the bridge.  We wonder if globeColorado Preservation, Inc will mount another drive to repair the bridge.

In the 1880s, Samuel King built a ferry across the Grand (now Colorado) River that served as a river crossing until the Dewey Bridge was constructed in 1916.  Dewey Bridge was Utah’s longest suspension bridge and, at the time of its construction, was the second longest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi.  It is also the state’s longest clear span bridge.  Dewey is now a ghost town.  The bridge was destroyed by fire in 2008 by a tourist's child playing with matches.  A replacement bridge was built for Utah SR128 between I-70 near Cisco, Utah (another ghost town) and Moab, Utah.

The Red Rock and Old Trails bridges are historically interconnected with US 66.  The Red Rock bridge was build in 1890 by the Atlantic and Picific Railroad.  At the time, the National All Trails road crossed the Colorado on the Needles Ferry.  The ferry was washed out by a flood in 1914.  Planks were laid across the railroad ties and autos crossed the river on the Red Rock bridge between trains until the Old Trails bridge was built in 1916.  The Red Rock bridge continued to serve the railroad until it (now the Sante Fe railroad) built a new bridge across the Colorado in 1945.  The Old Trails bridge was not able to handle the increasing car and truck traffic of US 66 so it was decided to convert the Red Rock bridge rather than remove it.  The rails and ties were removed and a road deck was built so US 66 traffic could be routed over the bridge.  The Red Rock bridge once again was opened for auto traffic in 1947 and continued to serve as the US 66 crossing of the Colorado until the I-40 bridge was built in 1966.

The Old Trails bridge, built in 1916 as the Colorado River crossing of the National Old Trails Road, became the US 66 bridge when that highway was created in 1926.  The bridge was abandoned when US 66 was moved to the Red Rock bridge in 1947, and later was converted to carry an El Paso natural gas pipeline across the Colorado.

The Photo gallery has photos of these four bridges, View photos is an auto-show of the gallery photos.