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UP - Riparia Bridge


OW&N - Snake River Bridge


Photo taken by Douglas Butler in March 2013

License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)


BH Photo #285132


Riparia was founded by Thomas Newlon, who bought a boat and began to operate a ferry, crossing the Snake River just above Texas Rapids, in 1865. The Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company completed a branch line connecting the town with Walla Walla and Portland in 1881. Seven years later the spur was extended into the Palouse region north of the Snake.

The O.R.&N. had planned to cross the river by transfer boat but that idea was quickly abandoned. A bridge was opened on August 28, 1888. Its three steel spans rested on piers of granite quarried from the walls of the riverís canyon at Almota. The crossing was superbly engineered and so well built that only a hand crank was required to operate the swing span.

The Camas Prairie Railroad, connecting Riparia with Lewiston, Idaho, was built along the north bank of the river shortly after the turn of the century. The town and most of the original railbed disappeared with the completion of Lower Monumental Dam in 1970. The bridge was removed after eight decades of service and replaced by a new crossing , consisting of a through truss and series of plate girder spans, located five miles down river just below the mouth of the Tuccannon.


Lost Pratt through truss swing bridge over Snake River on Union Pacific Railroad
Riparia, Whitman County, Washington, and Columbia County, Washington
Built 1889; Removed 1969
- George S. Morison of New Bedford, Massachusetts
- Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co. (OR&N)
- Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co. (OWR&N)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
1 352' Pratt through truss swing
2 325' Whipple through trusses
Total length: 1,002.0 ft.
Also called
UP - Snake River Bridge
OR&N - Snake River Bridge
OWR&N - Snake River Bridge
OWR&N - Riparia Bridge
OR&N - Riparia Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+46.57523, -118.09011   (decimal degrees)
46°34'31" N, 118°05'24" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
11/416469/5158539 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Starbuck East
Inventory number
BH 61306 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 22, 2020: New photo from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • June 2, 2019: New photo from Richard Doody
  • April 20, 2018: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical data to description
  • February 13, 2018: New photos from Leslie R trick
  • June 13, 2016: New photos from Luke
  • May 6, 2015: Updated by Luke: Added truss type and loss date.
  • June 10, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added link to historical imagery
  • June 10, 2014: Added by Douglas Butler


  • Douglas Butler
  • Whitman County Heritage - Image (1907)
  • Luke
  • Whitman County Heritage - Image (1960s)
  • Leslie R Trick - Leslie [dot] Trick [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Richard Doody
  • Melissa Brand-Welch - melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com


UP - Riparia Bridge
Posted March 29, 2022, by John C Stutz (john [dot] stutz [at] spcrr [dot] org)

The engineering drawings and early engravings included among the photographs, were published in Engineering (London) of 1891/11/06, V52 pp526-7, 530, 533-4, 538. The discussion focuses on the center bearing, which had a hydraulic press which carried the entire weight when turning, and at least initially made turning very easy. Morison's specification for the superstructure, mostly concerned with source and testing of materials, is reproduced in full, and gives an idea of the care that went into such major structures.