Navajo Bridge

Lee's Ferry was constructed in 1871, the only crossing of Grand (eventually Colorado) River between Moab, Utah, and Needles, CA, a distance of 800+ miles.  Automobiles on a rural road between Thistle, Utah, and Flagstaff, AZ, started crossing the Grand in the 1920s using this unsafe ferry, thus becoming an important passage for settlers and travelers.  The road was named US89 in 1925 when a plan for numbering highways was developed by the The United States Department of AgricultureUSDA.

Construction of the US89 Grand Canyon Bridge over Grand (Colorado) River in Marble Canyon began in 1927, a short distance downstream from Lee's Ferry.  In 1928 the ferry capsized, drowning three men and dumping a Model T into the Colorado.  With the bridge nearing completeion, the ferry did not reopen.  The Grand Canyon Bridge opened for traffic in 1929, was renamed Navajo Bridge in 1934.  By 1934, US89 was a 1,685-mile border-to-border highway from Mexico to Canada.

When the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge was finished in 1959, US89 was rerouted over the new bridge, and US89 between Kanab, Utah, and Bitter Springs, AZ, crossing Navajo Bridge became US89A (US89 Alternate).  In 1990, it was decided that the traffic flow on US89A was too great for Navajo Bridge, that a new bridge was needed.  The new Navajo Bridge over Marble (& Grand) Canyon opened for traffic in May, 1995.

With I-19 covering the exact route, US89 between Nogalis and Flagstaff was decommissioned as a federal highway in 1992, becoming part of the Arizona state highway system.  Scenic Arizona highway AZ89 through Prescott and highway AZ89A from Prescott through Sedona, is historic US89, rejoining US89 in Flagstaff, where it resumes its route to Canada (although it is not signed as US89 inside Yellowstone National Park).