1 vote

GRNW - Clearwater River Bridge


BG&CM - Clearwater Bridge


Photo taken by Douglas Butler


BH Photo #286254


Street View 


This bridge consists of two whipple spans joined together at the center bearing of a swing bridge (now immovable) and a overhead tension structure to help tie the two spans together.


Whipple through truss bridge over Clearwater River on Great Northwest Railroad
Kamiah, Lewis County, Idaho, and Idaho County, Idaho
Open to traffic
Built 1900;
- Bountiful Grain & Craig Mountain Railroad (BG&CM)
- Camas Prairie Railroad (CSP)
- Northern Pacific Railroad (NP)
Whipple through truss
Total length: 300.0 ft.
Also called
BG&CM - Clearwater River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+46.24102, -116.03770   (decimal degrees)
46°14'28" N, 116°02'16" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
11/574188/5121276 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
1140 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 56584 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 9, 2018: Updated by Fmiser: added length and description
  • June 23, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • June 12, 2013: Added by Luke Harden



GRNW - Clearwater River Bridge
Posted September 10, 2018, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

According to this Northern Pacific bridge book:


The truss was built here in 1916, indicating it was likely relocated. Could it be possible that this was originally a stationary span built elsewhere in the 1880s, and moved here?

GRNW - Clearwater River Bridge
Posted September 9, 2018, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

Karl - Thanks for the history!

I saw this bridge through the trees as I was driving west on US12 - but time and my long trailer prevented me from stopping and exploring. My research since make me really regret that I didn't try harder to get to it.

I found a stock photo here:


That, plus my memory and Douglas's drawing provided the data for the sketch I added. The sketch is probably not dimensionally accurate, but it shows the unusually construction.

BG&CM - Clearwater River Bridge
Posted June 5, 2014, by Karl Strauss (straus8 [at] ca [dot] rr [dot] com)

This is a swing bridge over a non-navigable river. When the Clearwater River Railroad wars were taking place, the Northern Pacific and Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation (OWR&N) were racing towards the Kamiah region with its bountiful forests and just as bountiful fields of grain. The first one there would grab the honeypot. The NP was winning the war but the OWN&R had an upper hand. They convinced a judge that the Clearwater river (average depths of some 6 feet) was navigable and also that it was of such quality that a steamboat could navigate it, and therefore a bridge - an expensive movable bridge was necessary per US law.

In the spring thaw the river does indeed become a raging torrent and the OWN&R folks knew this. On a spring day they convinced the captain of a sternwheeler based in nearby Lewiston, rumored to be a notorious drunk, to make the run to Kamiah on dare. And he took up the challenge. With Judge and Jury on hand the steamboat made its one and only entry into Kamiah and the judge ordered that a movable bridge be built.

The motor mechanism is long removed and the rails welded close but the large bull gear remains.