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The Infamous Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon

The Infamous Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon

Have you ever crossed the Navajo Bridge? Have you ever wanted to cross the Navajo Bridge? As one of the most feared bridges in the world, crossing the Navajo Bridge isn’t something that many dare try, even if they could actually fit through it. It may look like just another bridge, but underneath its stony exterior lies an interesting history and plenty of danger.

Why build the bridge?
In order to answer this question, we have to go back a little bit. The Grand Canyon was one of the last places that was considered wilderness and untouched by man. That all changed when President Theodore Roosevelt established the Grand Canyon National Monument on January 18, 1908. This set up the first restrictions on how people were allowed to visit and what they could do there.

How it was built
In 1929, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) contacted the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for aid with a major project: Build a bridge to cross the Colorado River. The bridge would connect Lee’s Ferry, Arizona to Marble Canyon, Utah, and help alleviate the long backpacking routes that Native Americans had to take on their way from one place to another.

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How the Navajos got paid
As the story goes, the Navajo tribe was being paid less than their fair share of the deal for land that they had already been living on for generations. In order to show how serious they were about this, a group of Navajos walked across a suspension bridge made of wooden logs and ropes. It wasn’t long before word got out and people started betting on how much time it would take before the bridge collapsed under their weight. The bridge never did give way though, and eventually became a tourist attraction.

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Who actually built the bridge?
In the 1930s, a group of engineers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Works Projects Administration (WPA), with help from the Indian labor force, built a series of bridges to connect tribal communities on either side of the Colorado River. These bridges, including the Navajo Bridge, were designed to be temporary until a more permanent bridge could be constructed.
In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt designated Route 66 as a national highway spanning over 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Odd jobs during construction
Unlike a lot of other jobs, the construction industry offers a variety of jobs within each industry. For instance, during the building process, you may find yourself:

  • working as a general contractor and managing all aspects of the project from start to finish
  • doing carpentry work
  • becoming an electrician or plumber for the duration of your employment
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