By Leigh Armstrong
The Chilkoot Trail bridge across the Taiya River was moved 200 feet upriver on May 17, to a more protected spot where the bridge is less likely to fall victim to shore erosion.
The Steel Truss bridge, nicknamed Steel II by the Park Service workers, is 62 feet in length and weighs 11.500 lbs.
It took about six hours to move the bridge. Rather than dismantle and move the bridge in pieces, the team used a series of pulleys and ropes to move the entire bridge to the new location.
The team had considered dismantling the bridge but decided to move it all at once after seeing that separating it into three pieces would still have each piece weighing over two tons.
“(The bridge relocation) went really smooth and a lot of credit goes to the trail crew,” Aric Baldwin, Klondike Gold Rush Park maintenance chief, said.
Though moving the bridge only took a day, the planning for the move was in the works for weeks, Baldwin said. Trail crew had inspected areas for the best spot for anchor lines and chose an optimal new location.
The move was necessary as the steel-truss bridge was in an area that could wash away due to shoreline erosion, Klondike Gold Rush Park superintendent Jason Taylor said.
If the bridge were to fall, it could be swept along the river and cause damage, Taylor said. If the bridge were to go out, hikers would be blocked from completing the Chilkoot Trail, he said.
The bridge was moved 200 feet upstream to a more secure area of the river. The project also included about 400 feet of new trail to the bridge.
While the bridge is open for visitors and hikers, there is still construction underway to fully secure the bridge at its new location.