In the early evening of June 15, 1925, Alva Henry noticed a foot-wide gap in the floor boards of the Chetco River Bridge that connected the coastal communities of Harbor and Brookings on U.S. Route 101.
He later recalled, “I was going fairly fast and didn’t notice it until bump, bump, bump. I went across anyway and thought someone had stolen a plank out of the bridge. When I got on shore, I heard a terrific crash. I stopped to look back and there wasn’t a bridge there anymore. It just disappeared – dropped down into the water clear out of sight.”
Nearby residents heard the crash and rushed to the scene to discover the western bridge span had fallen into the river when no one was crossing the bridge. State inspectors had condemned the bridge several months earlier, followed by considerable reinforcement work. No one had realized it was in such dangerous condition, and heavy traffic had resumed. After the incident, row boats carried mail and passengers across the river until a temporary crossing could be built.
Bridge builders placed a new steel structure on the original piers in 1926.
Source: Olsen, Edward G. “Then Till Now In Brookings-Harbor.” Brookings, Ore., Rotary Club of Brookings, 1979, pp. 51-52.