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Benson Bridge

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Benson Bridge

From the north

Photo taken by Chris Patriarca in November 2010

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Description 

Named after Oregon businessman Simon Benson who provided the money for its construction, this footbridge is situated 105' above the lower Multnomah Falls.

Facts 

Overview
Concrete arch bridge over Lower Multnomah Falls on a pedestrian trail
Location
Multnomah County, Oregon
Status
Open to pedestrians
History
Built 1914
Builders
- Karl P. Billner (Design Engineer)
- Pacific Bridge Co. of Oakland, California (Prime Contractor)
- Robert Lee Ringer (Sub-Contractor)
Design
The Benson Bridge is a reinforced concrete deck arch bridge over Multnomah Creek between the two tiers of Multnomah Falls on the Multnomah Fall – Larch Mountain Trail. The 52-foot long structure consists of a single 45-foot parabolic open spandrel barrel arch span. The design of the main span is unique for bridges designed in Oregon. The main arch is reinforced with a built-up steel lattice frame similar to a built-up truss member, rather than traditional tied steel reinforcing bar. The spandrel columns and the rest of the concrete in the structure utilized the traditional reinforcing bar for concrete reinforcement.
Topping each of the spandrel columns on the Benson Bridge is a half elliptical spandrel curtain wall. The spandrel curtain walls complement the main arch span and create a seamless transition between the superstructure and the bridge’s deck and railing.
The 3.5-foot open balustrade railing that was utilized on many of the early structures on the Historic Columbia River Highway is another key feature on the Benson Bridge. The top of the balusters have quarter elliptical arches coming from each side of the baluster. When the balusters are placed side by side they create a series of small arches just under the rail cap that also accent the parabolic main span.
The bridge features a 5.8-feet wide deck that carries the Multnomah Falls Trail over the 69-foot lower falls in route to a view point at the top of the 542-foot tall main falls. The trail also connects to other popular hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge area.
The Benson Bridge was built as a supplemental part of the Historic Columbia River Highway project and designed by bridge designer Karl P. Billner under the guidance of Oregon State Bridge Engineer Charles H. Purcell and Assistant Highway Engineer Samuel Lancaster. The overall design lines and the architectural detailing is very similar to the nearby Shepperds Dell Bridge which was also designed by Billner and is located just a few miles west of Multnomah Falls.
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 45.0 ft.
Total length: 52.0 ft.
Deck width: 5.8 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 22, 1981
Also called
Multnomah Falls Bridge
Benson Footbridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+45.57724, -122.11635   (decimal degrees)
45°34'38" N, 122°06'59" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/568942/5047457 (zone/easting/northing)
USGS topographic map
Multnomah Falls
Inventory numbers
NRHP 81000512 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 48289 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 31, 2011: New photos from Michael Goff
  • February 28, 2011: Updated by Michael Goff: Added design description
  • February 28, 2011: New photo from Chris Patriarca
  • February 28, 2011: New Street View added by Jason Smith
  • February 27, 2011: Added by Chris Patriarca

Sources 

Comments 

Benson Bridge
Posted January 10, 2014, by K. A. Erickson

A friend posted about this online and I see Mike Goff's comment below.

Here's another media article/coverage link.

http://www.kgw.com/home/Large-rock-falls-on-iconic-bridge-at-Multnomah-Falls-239483641.html

Benson Bridge
Posted January 9, 2014, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/01/rock_smashes_through_deck_hand.html#incart_river_default

This bridge suffered some fairly serious damage last night after a rock smashed through the deck and rail. Hopefully, the structural damage is minimal and repairs can be made.

Benson Bridge
Posted March 2, 2011, by Melissa Kernea (rebellovers30721 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That bridge just takes my breath away and I would love to try and see that in person someday. Many thanks for sharing it with us. Just awesome.....

Benson Bridge
Posted February 28, 2011, by Chris Patriarca

Thanks for the love guys as I am a new contributor here! It is an awesome spot and the way the bridge blends into the stunning natural setting is pretty awesome. I also uploaded a second picture from the opposite view as requested!

Benson Bridge
Posted February 28, 2011, by Michael Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] odot [dot] state [dot] or [dot] us)

Sometimes it’s funny how things workout. I have been waiting a year to get my new camera and photograph this little bridge that was just outside my backdoor when I worked in Portland. I had photographed this little structure with my old camera, but the photos were junk.

I purchased my new camera last week and am headed to the Portland area in two weeks. I am planning on heading up the gorge and do a bunch of new shots. Just when I am finally going to get the photos of the falls and the Benson Bridge, bam someone else has done it.

Very nice work Chris, I'll have a hard time doing a better job with the side profile shot. I would love to see more photos if you have them.

Mike

Benson Bridge
Posted February 28, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This is one of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen.

Benson Bridge
Posted February 27, 2011, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

WOW!....The Columbia River Gorge and it's waterfalls have been on the top of "Places to visit" list since I was a kid.

Might end up on my bucket list....but I'll get there someday!