I probably would feel somewhat differently about the wooden bridge at the end of Bridge Street if I had to use it daily. The few times I have crossed it in a vehicle I find it frustrating. Not everyone knows who gets their turn and when. I know, it is marked but I see the same thing happen at four way stops. Don’t get me started about what fun it is to cross at wintertime.
Let me clarify. I love that old piece of nostalgia. But the reality is, it is an old piece of nostalgia. I appreciate the time and effort that has gone into keeping it operational over the years but in recent years there has been a lot more repairs to it than I can recall in the entire time I’ve lived here. I moved to Princeton in October 1986, in case you’re wondering. So the extra work is because…
It’s getting older.
As for the historic significance the wooden bridge holds in our community, I highly doubt that much of the original bridge from the 1930s still exists in that structure. That’s my opinion and I may be wrong but with deck, railing and support replacements over the years I wonder if there’s more that 25-percent of the original bridge still there. I know, the very first crossing of the Tulameen River dates back to the late 1880s and it was lost in a flood. The current wooden bridge, however much of it is still original, was the third bridge at that approximate location.
What About The Historic Part?
I’m all for preserving our local history. It’s something that we much do for two reasons.
1 – It gives us something to pass down to those who follow us years after we are gone.
2 – It shows us how far we have gone from any point in the past.
So, as much as I love the fact that Princeton has one of the few remaining wooden bridges still in regular use, it is also slowly dying each time we use it. Something worth preserving typically gets ‘retired’ and put somewhere so it can be enjoyed by others and more or less out of circulation in order to extend the life of that historic object. So what do we do with the wooden bridge?
Make Room For Progress
You know, as a taxpayer I scratch my head when I hear things like the bridge can’t hold some of our larger - municipally-owned and operated - emergency vehicles. I guess if there was another shorter route to Coalmont, Tulameen or just Allison Flats it wouldn’t be such a deal. But if there was a disaster on the other side of the wooden bridge, a lot of the help required wouldn’t be able to cross the bridge to get there. Sure, the alternative is up Highway 5A over the silver bridge and up, around from the intersection at the Princeton Arena and down.
It may not sound like much of a detour, but when seconds count, it’s a pretty big deal.
I don’t want to see the wooden bridge go, but we have to be realistic about the situation. I think Princeton deserves a two-lane crossing over the Tulameen River. We’ve only be waiting for that for the past 150+ years. I think we’re due. But I also like the idea of preserving the wooden bridge in some way. A walking bridge sounds good but where does the new two-lane crossing go? It’s going to take some work to come up with a plan that pleases most, if not all of us.
The bottom line is, we can save our local history but we can’t let it get in the way of progress. There will be a solution, but for now, the next few times I cross the wooden bridge – when it is my turn to do so – I may just do it slowly enough to enjoy the ride while I still can.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.