The First Bridge at the Narrows

The first Mojave River bridge September 22, 1890 – September 26, 1890Upper Mojave River Narrows 1890

In 1890 a bridge was to be built across the Mojave River.  The location just north of the upper narrows rather than further downstream at Oro Grande was chosen.  A few days before the bridge was completed the county supervisors and an engineer visited the structure for inspection. The engineer was disappointed in the fact that the suspension bridge failed to meet specifications and could not do the job it was designed to.

The bridge was finished and prior to opening to the public a physical test was to take place.  A large ore wagon loaded with 8 tons of rock and a trail wagon were pulled across the bridge by a boy, Austin Ellis, driving an 18 mule team.  He made it. There was a lot of clapping and yelling and celebrating when all of a sudden a pillar collapsed and a suspension cable “disappeared like magic, sending up a volcano of dust. The bridge collapsed dumping the wagons, mules, the boy and five men and boy into the river 50 feet below.