Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Galloping Gertie

I'm trying to get today's post done in a hurry, because I am meeting an early follower (the daughter of my Mom's best friend) and giving her a tour of my Museum! Have you heard of "Galloping Gertie"? This was the nickname for a suspension bridge built across the Tacoma Narrows in Washington State, at a point where the Puget Sound narrows to 1 mile. Shortly after it opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, it started becoming unstable - and people drove on it anyway. It failed (1st photo) 4 months later on November 7th, and the dramatic collapse was caught on 16mm film by a the owner of a local camera shop. The failure of the bridge was aeroelastic flutter due to the high (42mph) winds. The only fatality was a small dog that 2 men had tried to rescue, getting bitten in the process. The bridge was replaced with "Sturdy Gertie," which opened to traffic on November 14, 1950. When it reached capacity, another span was added. The 1st span became the Westbound bridge and the 2nd became the Eastbound bridge. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge as we now know it (2nd photo) opened on November 4, 2002. It doesn't gallop!

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