Bow Bridge of the Big Wood River

Land trusts have been in existence for more than 100 years with a purpose to protect, conserve, and restore land and water for future generations. The Wood River Land Trust of Hailey, Idaho was established in 1994 to serve such a purpose in Idaho’s Wood River Valley.

In 2007 the Land Trust acquired the Wood River Preserve from the state of Idaho in a trade. The 80 acre of parcel of land with ½ mile of frontage along the Big Wood River was once home to a dump and in cooperation with the city local volunteers representing the trust worked to remove 600 cubic yards of material in order to make it accessible.

Development of the site soon followed. An elevated boardwalk was constructed over sensitive wetland areas in order to allow access to the public without the threat of damage to the natural surroundings.

In continuation of this complex restoration project, a 160 ft clear span pedestrian bridge was built to provide access from the East side of the Big Wood River to the elevated boardwalk on the West side. The Big Wood River is hallowed ground with a rich history of the Nez Pearce and Shoshone Indian tribes who once thrived along the river. Drawing inspiration from these tribes, the Bow Bridge of the Big Wood River was designed to mimic a recurve bow that appears to have been dropped from the sky. Landing string side down, the bridge now connects the East and West banks of the Big Wood.

Leslie Howa of HOWADESIGN is responsible for the conceptual design of the bridge as well as its architectural features.

In an e-mail received from Leslie, she told me the project was spearheaded by the Wood River Land Trust but inspired by the Indian tribes that “thrived long before modern man neglected the once thriving river landscape and habitat. For all of us to remember that we borrow these protected lands from our children.”

Western Wood Structures engineered the “Pinned Arch” style bridge, fabricated the Glulam components in house, and installed it. The installation took just 3 weeks.

 Each frame was pre-assembled on its appropriate side of the river

Cranes lifted each arch frame and pinned them to the abutments

The arch frames were then pinned at the center

The deck system, posts, and rails were installed last