Footbridge from Salvage Lumber



E & I went up the valley a bit to¬†salvage these two viable cedar planks remaining from the piled remains of a demolished bridge put in by a timber crew who set up a mill to thin our forest back in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s. I don’t think such big cedar timbers can be found anymore. They are the sturdy looking forms spanning the creek in front of the worn old footbridge.


Bridge or Trap? Depends on how you walk across it.


The support rails are a pair of Lodgepole Pine felled from the forest behind the house, seated on rocks/dirt, and severely compromised by rot. The planks are thin, probably from the timber crew’s mill. Affixed with drywall screws, many screws have rusted and sheared making for flip-boarding.


The planks were the only thing holding the lodgepole rail on the left together, and it comes apart as I pull it out. The one on the right is so heavy with water that I use the truck to pull it out.


I use a pickaxe to pull bricks from a grass-mound, where bricks were planted long ago and still sprout. E & I loaded them into the wagon and trailed them down to the bridge. A pair of extra pavers from re-footing the woodstove a few summers back provide an “L” structure that will hold a span of salvaged cedar 4×4.


Bricks disappear into the hole faster than you expect; more trips to the brick mound.


The big salvage planks are a few feet shorter than the Lodgepole, so I clear the area while I come up with a plan.


The first layer is all brick set deep in the mud, then this layer raises out of the creek. 


We jump through all the structural footing, as the camera battery needed a recharge. Here the big rails run inside the pavers, resting on the 4×4 rail and held in place by massive toe screws, and further supported with Redwood end-cuts from the new Pergola back in Salt Lake.


Safer to walk across than the old bridge already. Measuring for planks.


The planks are 2×6 cedar runners salvaged from broken corral panels and an old feed trough.


A few of the planks just fell apart while being sectioned, so E & I scouted out a variety of possible alternatives, many of which also blew apart. Eventually we had enough planks to skin the rails.


I cut a step into the rails at each end with the pole saw- E points out that Safety Comes When Man has suspended the power cord over the creek. I probably should have used the chainsaw for this, as it is easier to establish a level cut with- but I was running low on fuel after all the big willow clean up.


Putting in the first step.


Standing on the step and beginning to skin the bridge. I’m using all-weather deck screws; they won’t shear like the old drywall screws.


I pre-drill all the holes for the skin boards, even though the screws are “self-boring”, to ensure that I don’t lose any to splits. It takes more screws than I have left after triaging the garage, and I have to go through my collections of salvaged deck screws from SLC projects.

_DSC5219 - Version 2

The hawks play on evening thermals over the forested hill beyond the corral.


The last step is cut and outfitted.


Before: A memory of a bridge.


After: Actual Bridge.

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