Longview’s Bridges: Long and Short

Bridges spanning the Columbia River to connect the states of Washington and Oregon often had tolls to pay the construction costs. The tollbooths were usually removed after the construction bonds were retired. The tolls were generally collected at the Oregon side, leading one to believe that Washington was not to be trusted with the revenue.

The Longview Bridge, connecting Longview WA and Rainier OR was privately built and owned. Lumber magnate Robert Long – namesake of the town – was the driving force behind the $5.8-million bridge that opened in 1930 with $1.00 toll for cars and 10¢ for pedestrians. (No record of which end of the bridge collected the toll.) The state of Washington purchased the bridge in 1947 and discontinued the toll in 1965 when the bridge was paid for. The name was changed to Lewis and Clark in 1980. The bridge, 340 feet above the river at its peak, is 8,288 feet long.

Longview also boasts another privately-built bridge. At 60 feet, considerably shorter than the Lewis and Clark, the Nutty Narrows Bridge opened to squirrel traffic in 1963. Local resident Amos Peters was disturbed by the carnage of squirrels trying to cross Olympia Way, a busy thoroughfare in Longview. With assistance from a local architect and an engineer, Amos and a friend built the bridge. It soon received publicity and fans around the world. With construction cost of $1,000, it never had a toll, but squirrels generally do not carry cash.

The Nutty Narrows Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.