Photos by Julie Johansen
The latest project for the Historic Preservation Committee of Castle Dale is to restore the old bridge that resides in the city. The bridge is the property of Emery County. However, it is a route that is chosen for many residents of Castle Dale for photo opportunities and a walking trial.
Previously, the bridge was also used as an ATV trail for a quick way out of town. Unfortunately, the deck of the bridge ended up in such disrepair that the barriers were temporarily installed to ensure safety. Since that time, there have been various path-work pieces that were added. A complete restoration is still needed for the bridge to be safely used by members of the community.
Many would state that the bridge is a rich piece of history for the town as well as the whole of Emery County. Built in 1910, the steel bridge was constructed following the destruction of many bridges across Emery and Carbon counties by excessive rains in the mountains and valleys. Following the massive storms, a special election was called to vote upon the proposed issue of bonds. The bonds were in the amount of $35,000 and the purpose was to construct the steel bridges with concrete abutments over the rivers of Emery County as well as road improvement.
At that time, Emery County Clerk Mark Tuttle stated that the bridges to be built were to be permanent and of the most substantial character. As the bond was passed, the contract was awarded to James J. Burke and Company. The company was based in Salt Lake City and had came out as the lowest bid. Five bridges were constructed over county rivers: Muddy River, Ferron River, Huntington Creek and Cottonwood Creek in both Castle Dale and Orangeville.
At that time, Emery County Commissioner Chairman Singleton reached out to the contractor to give him guidance on the construction of said bridges.
“Every part of the work on these bridges should be done right and no poor materials or workmanship should be used or allowed,” Singleton said.
The Castle Dale bridge is the sole out of the five constructed that is still standing. Emery County took responsibility and ownership of the bridge per an agreement signed in 1964 with UDOT. In correspondence with the National Historic Bridge Foundation, it was noted that the restoration was especially significant as it was constructed with “pin construction.” There are few left standing of that make. The provided information has caused the bridge to be placed on priority level with the local historic committee.
The restoration would not only make it a viable trail but a tribute to those who sacrificed to pay off the bridges and increase the transportation ease of the earlier citizens of this area as well.