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Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge

Category: Museums & History
Location: Riverfront
Business:
Cell:
Address:
Colorado River at Gateway Park
Yuma, AZ 85364
Email:
Fees:
Free
Hours:
None (Gateway Park hours sunrise to 11 p.m.)
Your Itinerary

The Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge was the first highway crossing of the Colorado River. Its name derives from the fact that it was a critical link in one of the nation's first transcontinental highways.

When the bridge opened to traffic in 1914, it drove the rope ferry that had transported people, animals and vehicles for decades out of business.

You can best view the bridge from Gateway Park, or drive over it - traffic flows in one direction at a time - from 1st Street in downtown Yuma or Quechan Drive in California.

 

The Ocean-to-Ocean bridge was the first highway span over the lower Colorado River It proved to be the crucial link that made a southern transcontinental highway possible.

Arizona became a state in 1912.  In 1913, Arizona Representative Carl Hayden introduced a Congressional bill for the construction of a steel highway bridge over the Colorado River at Yuma.  Providing a crossing for the Yuma Indian reservation, the Yuma Bridge was funded in part by the Office of Indian Affairs.  The State of Arizona and Imperial County, California each contributed $25,000.00.

The Office of Indian Affairs engineers in Washington designed this long-span truss and located it at the foot of the Yuma Territorial Prison at the narrows of the Colorado River. In June 1914, the agency contracted with the Omaha Structural Steel Works of Nebraska to fabricate and construct the bridge for $72,000.00.

Unfortunately, the engineers were unfamiliar with the Colorado River and problems arose soon after construction began in October. After the foundation was washed away twice that winter, Omaha opted to erect the truss on barges and float it into position.  The truss was “swung” on March 3, the bridge opened to traffic on May 22, 1914.

During the Great Depression, “Okies” fleeing the Dust Bowl of the Plains streamed through Yuma on their way to California.  Since the bridge was a “choke” point, California law enforcement officials stopped those without money or jobs, and turned them back to Yuma.  Many of those people settled in Yuma.

In 1988, the bridge was closed after inspection revealed structural deficiencies.  In 1999, the Quechan Indian Tribe and City of Yuma teamed up to fund the restoration and re-open the bridge, re-connecting the two communities.  The bridge opened amid celebration on February 29, 2002.


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