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Monroe Street Bridge (1892)


Circa 1909

Old Postcard View


BH Photo #410711


Six companies submitted a total of eight proposals for the second Monroe Street bridge. After a thorough analysis of all the bids, the city council, acting on the advice of its engineer Oscar Huber, selected the more expensive of two proposals by the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio. The new bridge would be a steel and wrought iron cantilever structure with 787 foot suspended span, a 192 foot approach on the south end and a 140 foot approach on the north end, bringing the total length to 1,099 feet. The bridge was built at a cost of $107,000 and was completed in July 1891.

The nearly completed second Monroe Street Bridge was opened in a rather unusual way which the local press turned into a minor sensation. “A NERVY YOUNG WOMAN, The First Pedestrian to Cross the New Monroe Street Bridge, 128 FEET ABOVE THE WATER, Miss Mary Winitch Walks Across the Foaming Abyss on an Iron Girder Amid the Cheers of the Assembled Spectators. The last link of the Monroe Street Bridge connecting both sides of the Spokane River was completed yesterday. … Hardly had the union been made …when a young lady dressed in white, who had walked out from the north end on a narrow stringer, approached the workmen…and asked permission to pass. Believing the woman was simply joking…they readily acquiesced. Scarcely had the words left their mouths than she proceeded on the perilous undertaking across the narrow girder, 60 feet long, and 20 feet of it only six inches wide, above a yawning abyss of 128 feet below. The spectators on the banks were no less amazed than the workmen when they saw the form of a female go tripping across the chasm on her narrow gauge roadway, without any support whatever, and balancing herself as nimbly as if she were a female Blondin on an every day excursion. When she reached the south span …the miss climbed up on the floor stringers… looked around her, and raising a bunch of ribbons that hung from her waist waved them in triumph to her lady friend and the workmen on the north span… What was the surprise of the onlookers when the young lady began to descend to the girder and to retrace her steps from the south to the north… Gradually the distance grew smaller between the lady and the finished end of the structure on the north side until she reached out her hand to grasp the floor stringers that she had left a few minutes before, when a huzzah from a score of throats rent the air. She was the first pedestrian, male or female , that had crossed the…bridge, both north and south.” - Spokane Review

The builders had said the new crossing was designed to last half a century but they failed to take into account the detrimental effects of twentieth century traffic and the problems with the unstable foundation of the south approach. The span stood for less than two decades. Barnum & Bailey came to town in 1907 and the elephants refused to parade across the shaky bridge. The bridge was torn down in 1909 to make way for yet another Monroe Street bridge.


Lost Pratt deck truss bridge over Spokane River on Monroe Street
Spokane, Spokane County, Washington
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1892; Replaced 1911
- Smith Bridge Co. of Toledo, Ohio
A steel and wrought iron cantilever structure with 787 foot suspended span, a 192 foot approach on the south end and a 140 foot approach on the north end, bringing the total length to 1,099 feet.
Length of largest span: 787.0 ft.
Total length: 1,099.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+47.66055, -117.42669   (decimal degrees)
47°39'38" N, 117°25'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
11/467962/5278660 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Spokane NW
Inventory number
BH 63867 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 24, 2022: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • July 21, 2021: New photo from Dave King
  • January 22, 2020: New photo from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • April 19, 2018: Updated by Luke: Added categories "Smith Bridge Co.", "Spokane River"
  • April 19, 2018: Updated by Richard Doody: Add historical info to description etc.
  • November 11, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • October 28, 2014: Added by Luke

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