When human progress clashes with nature and wildlife habitat, it becomes necessary to provide a safe haven for animals in the form of wildlife crossings such as bridges and underpasses that allow animals to cross human-made barriers safely. The Nutty Narrows Bridge is such a wildlife crossing for squirrels erected in the city of Longview, Washington, that provides a safe route for squirrels trying to cross the street. While most squirrel bridges are simply a length of rope tied across the road between two elevated points, such as trees, the Nutty Narrows Bridge is an elaborate structure designed to appear like a miniature suspension bridge.
The bridge is located across Olympia Way near Civic Center circle and allows squirrels to move between the Park Plaza office building and a city park across the street. Before the bridge was built, squirrels had to dodge traffic to and from the Park Plaza office building where office staff put out a nutty feast for the squirrels. After seeing too many fatal crossings, Amos J. Peters, the owner of a construction contracting firm, conceived the idea of a squirrel bridge.
Peters engaged architects Robert Newhall and LeRoy Dahl, who designed the bridge, and Donald Kramer, who completed the structural engineering. Peters and his associate Bill Hutch then started constructing the 60-foot bridge out of aluminum and lengths of discarded fire hose. In 1963, they hoisted the bridge over the road between two trees, and unveiled it with a grand dedication ceremony. There were marching bands and a temporary platform for dignitaries to speak for the occasion. The bridge immediately started receiving world-wide attention and was featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines including Sports Illustrated and the Christian Science Monitor.
Over the years the bridge has been taken down several times for repairs and has been moved four times due to the failure of the attached structural supports. In 2010 it was reinstalled near its original location. In 2014, the bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Inspired by Nutty Narrows Bridge’s success, the city installed several more bridges. Today Longview has four squirrel bridges.
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