If I had posted this story yesterday, everyone might have taken it as an April Fools’ Day joke. But, these unique squirrel bridges are indeed a reality in the City of Longview, Washington, located some 40 miles north of Portland, Oregon. The construction and installation of squirrel bridges was begun in 1963 by local builder Amos J. Peters, after he found a dead squirrel in the street outside his office. The popularity of squirrel bridges in Longview has grown into a fun way of protecting the squirrel population, of promoting the city, and of marketing its annual Squirrel Festival that began in 2011.
Each bridge is uniquely designed, starting with the original “Nutty Narrows Bridge” completed by Mr. Peters in 1963. This bridge was followed by the Bruce Camp Memorial Bridge in 2011, which resembles a covered bridge; the John R. Dick Squirrel Bridge (2012) – employing a cable-stayed bridge design; the wooden truss design of the OBEC “Woodie” Bridge (2013); the Safety Awareness Bridge (2015) that was built by the local Longview-Kelso robotics team; and recently installed replicas of the Lewis & Clark Bridge that links Longview with Oregon across the Columbia River and the handsome Fremont Bridge located in Portland.
The original “Nutty Narrows Bridge” from 1963 was even added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
These diminutive and surprising complex bridges have become so iconic in Longview, that a local civic booster organization called the Sandbaggers, who help promote design competitions for new squirrel bridges in the city. The winning design(s) are chosen during the annual Squirrel Festival. There are even maps and brochures available in print and online which identify the locations of the bridges for visitors and locals, alike (see below).
Congratulations to Longview and its innovative citizens for not only helping reduce squirrel mortalities within their city, but also for finding a unique, fun, and enterprising way to do so. Certainly, Longview’s squirrel population is thrilled about all the notoriety and easily accessible infrastructure for them to utilize. I know, I for one plan to visit Longview to see its “nutty” squirrel bridges myself, the next time I’m in the Pacific Northwest. Peace!