A Pivotal Bridge is Dedicated in the State of Washington

January 8, 1927

In the northwestern area of Washington state, a new bridge crossing the Puyallup River and linking the cities of Tacoma and Fife in Pierce County was dedicated. The Puyallup Avenue Bridge had been designed by engineers of the Washington State Department of Highways (now part of the Washington State Department of Transportation) and constructed by Grant Smith & Company of Seattle.

This structure, which would also become known as the Puyallup River Bridge and the Eells Street Bridge, was built not only to connect Tacoma and Fife but to also serve as a vital component of the Pacific Highway. (The attached photograph shows the bridge about two weeks before it was dedicated.)

The dedication ceremony for the bridge was organized by the Pierce County chapter of the Automobile Club of Washington. As a key part of that Saturday’s festivities, Washington Governor Robert H. Hartley drove an automobile through a satin ribbon that had been hung across the center of the bridge. The ceremony also included a concert by the Pierce County Firemen’s and Policemen’s Band and a benediction by the Reverend C. Oscar Johnson of the First Baptist Church in Tacoma.

Notwithstanding all of the fanfare surrounding the dedication, it would be more than eight months before the bridge was finally opened to traffic. The long delay occurred because the region’s section of the Pacific Highway was not completed until that time. The Puyallup Avenue Bridge, as a matter of fact, became one of the last major linkages of the highway to go into service within Washington.

For the most, part, the bridge has remained in operation in the decades since its formal debut. In May 2018, however, the bridge was temporarily closed so that its deteriorating span could be replaced. The renovated bridge was reopened to traffic in September 2019. By that time, the structure had been officially renamed the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge. This name change took place as a tribute to the region’s Puyallup Tribe of Indians — a sovereign nation of more than 5,000 members – and their significant struggles during the 1960s and 1970s to exercise their longtime right to fish in the vicinity of the bridge.

“Naming this bridge after the Fishing Wars will help future generations know what happened here,” asserted David Z. Bean, chairman of the Puyallup Tribal Council. “But it is also symbolic of bridging our past with our present and our future, and of bridging our communities.”

For more information on the dedication of the Puyallup Avenue Bridge (now called the Fishing Wars Memorial Bridge), please check out https://www.historylink.org/File/10427

Additional information on this bridge is available at https://www.kiro7.com/news/south-sound-news/long-closed-bridge-over-the-puyallup-river-in-tacoma-to-re-open-saturday/985361155/

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