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Hoko River Bridge, located in Clallam County on the Olympic Peninsula, collapses when a 40-ton log truck drives over it on April 22, 1947.

HistoryLink.org Essay 8241 : Printer-Friendly Format

On April 22, 1947, F. H. Jarnagin drives his loaded log truck over a rural, wood-decked, steel pony-trussed bridge spanning the Hoko River. The bridge, located four miles west of Sekiu in Clallam County, is posted with a load limit of five tons. Under the weight of the 40-ton truck, it collapses.

Crash and Burn

The logs crashed into the river, the truck burned, and the bridge was destroyed, but the driver escaped unharmed. He faced legal action. According to the account of the accident in the book Spanning Washington, Clallam County prosecuting attorney D. E. Harper said:

"The bridge was posted warning users that five tons was the limit but Mr. Jarnagin destroyed the bridge by undertaking to go over it with approximately forty tons."

The bridge was built in 1931. Its collapse was one of 70 bridge failures between 1923 and 1998 recorded by Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The list is incomplete, excluding most failed bridges owned by cities and counties, failed bridges owned by the federal government, failed bridges owned by non-WSDOT state agencies, and bridge collapses that occurred before 1923,

Craig Holstine and Richard Hobbs, Spanning Washington: Historic Bridges of the Evergreen State (Pullman: WSU Press, 2005), 54.

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Hoko River Bridge collapse, Olympic Peninsula near Sekiu, April 22, 1947
Courtesy Washington State Archives, WSDOT branch (Spanning Washington)

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