If there’s ever a sight to see on Oregon’s beautiful coast, offering beautiful views of the twinkling hills of Astoria and the majestic view of the mouth of the Columbia River, it is the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The traverse is a steel cantilever through a truss bridge and unbelievably is almost 5 miles long.
At 4.1 miles to be exact, the pale green structure is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. In fact, even being from Oregon I did not realize how far this massive construction stretched until doing more research.
Millions of people travel across the iconic Astoria-Megler Bridge yearly, and if you have not seen it yourself in person, I could not recommend more making the trip at some point in the near future, as the photos do not do it justice. While it may not be for everyone, crossing the structure is an absolute must.
In 1921, there was a ferry service established that ran from Astoria to Megler in Washington, and was eventually taken over by the State of Oregon in 1946. With some help from the state of Washington, the Oregon State Legislature approved the bridge in 1959.
Construction of the structure began on November 5, 1962, as the idea of a bridge crossing the Lower Columbia River had been an idea that many in the area shared for a lot of years. The bridge was of course no easy task, as ginormous sections of it were sent by barge down the Columbia River and lifted into place using huge, hydraulic jacks.
Senator Dan Thiel of Astoria, got the ball rolling as he headed a crusade for the bridge, which at the time cost $24 million. Skeptics and critics of the plan nicknamed it the “Bridge to Nowhere”. A few years later, on Aug. 27, 1966, the ceremonial ribbon was cut. The bridge was officially open to public use with a crowd of 30,000 people attending parades, drives, and a marathon boat race from Portland to Astoria to celebrate. Upon its completion, the Astoria-Megler Ferry which could take up to an hour to travel on was replaced.
Their tune changed when the “Bridge to Nowhere” had carried around 240,000 by the last five months of 1966. By 1993, it’s been said the bridge had more than 1.6 million vehicles a year traveling across. It is said approximately 6,000 cars cross the two-lane (including bike lanes) bridge daily.
The governor at the time of Oregon, Mark O. Hatfield, officially started the project as he turned the first shovel of dirt on the riverbank in Astoria, on August 6 of 1962. It is said to be able to withstand the toughest attacks of nature, with winds up to 150 miles per hour at times pounding the massive structure. The concrete piers which secure the trusses are built with an eye toward the river, which flows at speeds of nine miles per hour. Whole trees are even known to float along the raging water, and the bridge was built to withstand even this.
The Astoria-Megler Bridge Is Famous
Short Circuit, The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, and Free Willy are just a few classic movies filmed in Oregon, but did you know the bridge can also be seen in them?
If you have some time, watch the video below from The Goonies and see if you can spot it.
With over 50 years standing, every year in October thousands of people get together for the Great Columbia Crossing event, and walk or run across the bridge, while it is closed down to traffic. Hit the link here to read about other awesome suspension bridges in Oregon, which you may not know about. Don’t forget to check out our map of Oregon coast to see all the best spots to visit!
Buy A Print Of The Astoria-Megler Bridge For Your Wall
Recently added to our online shop, you can now have your own gorgeous print (shown below) of the iconic bridge. This beautiful image is the perfect addition to any home or office, and any room you so desire. Hit the link here to head over to our shop now to choose the perfect size. Click here > SHOP NOW