Tacoma News Tribune

Photo Of The Day

Photo: University of Washington Libraries. Special Collections Division.

Photo: University of Washington Libraries. Special Collections Division.

“Galloping Gertie”

Howard Clifford running off the Tacoma Narrows Bridge during the collapse.

On November 7, 1940, at about 11 a.m., the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses in a high wind. The bridge spanned the Tacoma Narrows, a deep, narrow section of Puget Sound that separates Tacoma from Gig Harbour and the Key Peninsula. The bridge collapses four months and seven days after it is dedicated. It had severely oscillated even as it was being built: workers on the bridge sucked lemons to combat seasickness and dubbed it “Galloping Gertie.” The structure’s wave-like motions made it a thrill to drive across ? joy-riders increased traffic on the bridge from the beginning — but no one expected it to collapse. The bridge disaster was a tragedy for Tacoma, which lost the retail trade from Kitsap County and a connection to the Bremerton Navy Yard during the years of World War II. The engineering failure became a textbook case and revolutionized designs and procedures for building suspension bridges.

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