Basalt History Tour
In the 1800s Bridges Were a Crucial Lifeline for Commerce and TravelAlthough we take our bridges for granted today, in the 1800s they were a crucial lifeline for commerce and travel, and the untamed rivers often washed them away in the high water of the spring.
In the mid-1880s, the townspeople determined that the bridge crossing the Frying Pan at the location of the swinging bridge, just downstream, was inadequate. They then rerouted the main road and constructed a wood and metal bridge at this site. In 1908 that bridge was replaced with the concrete and steel “Pueblo Bridge,” named after the company that produced the bridge and sold them to various Colorado communities. The bridge stands here today.Then in 1937 the Colorado Highway Department acquired the original railroad bridge, where it crosses the Frying Pan just above its junction with the Roaring Fork, and converted it to a highway automobile bridge as part of “old” Highway 82. Highway 82 became the main route for traffic up and down the valley, and until Basalt began expanding in the 1970s, the Pueblo Bridge received little use.
In the high water year of 1957, the two-part bridge crossing the Roaring Fork, shown in the photo, became precarious to traverse. School buses were unloaded, kids walked across, and the buses then drove over empty, reloaded and continued their rounds. This bridge is at the identical site of the current pedestrian bridge at Basalt Avenue. Note the amazing width of the Roaring Fork in 1957’s flood compared to the much tamer river today.