Thursday, September 26, 2019

Squirrels, and Stuff..



Squirreling by Jamie Wyeth

Went up to Longview to meet up with a friend and her Dad.  We took a drive around the area, and there were lots of stories told.  They took me to get a first hand view of the famous Nutty Narrows Bridge.  I was intrigued and did a little research when I got home.  Here is the story of how the Nutty Narrows Bridge came to be: 
by the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, WA gov

Nutty Narrows Bridge, Dedicated to the Safe Passage of Squirrels, has been added to the NRHP!


The Nutty Narrows Bridge that was erected to create a safe, above-street crossing for the City of Longview squirrels has been listed to the National Register of Historic Places.  When constructed in 1963, the bridge received world-wide attention and was featured in Sports Illustrated, the Christian Science Monitor and the London Daily Press. The Bridge is a small-sized catenary bridge that allowed squirrels to move between the Park Plaza office building and a city park across the street. The bridge is the oldest known squirrel bridge in the United States. Envisioned by the owner of a construction company, Amos J. Peters, the Nutty Narrows squirrel bridge was constructed in March of 1963 and reflects a modern design aesthetic combined with the do-it-yourself style of Amos J. Peters. 

Amos Peters, the bridge’s designer and builder, discovered the need for the bridge when he noticed a red squirrel in the road in front of his office building that had met a vehicular demise. Peters collected the remains of the dead squirrel and carried it home to show his three children.  After some months in the family freezer, the children, unbeknownst to Peters, pooled their allowance money and took the frozen squirrel to a taxidermist for preservation. It was their 1963 Christmas gift to their father. This stuffed squirrel, the inspiration for the Nutty Narrows Bridge, is on display at the office of the Amos Peters Construction Company to this day. 
 AmosPeters Taxidermy Squirrel
Peters first kept the idea of building a squirrel bridge to himself because he believed others would think he was a “nut.”  However, after Peters mentioned the idea of the squirrel bridge to insurance man Win Jones, another tenant of the Park Plaza building, “things moved rapidly.”  With agreement from Frank Willis, the Longview Parks Department superintendent, on February 28, 1963, Peters presented the idea to the Longview City Council. Before finalizing the design, Peters consulted with architect Robert Newhall and civil engineer Donald Kramer, as directed by the City Council.  LeRoy Dahl, an employee of Newhall, participated in finalizing the design. All of the Nutty Narrows engineering and architectural service providers had offices in the Park Plaza office building. Peters promised the “entire initial cost … together with its future maintenance [would] be financed by Park Plaza.” With approval from the “City department heads,” the City Council unanimously passed a motion to accept the offer. At this same meeting, councilwoman Mrs. P. H. LaRiviere, Sr., was reported to have “facetiously suggested the name ‘Nutty Narrows’,” and thus it has been known as such ever since. This was likely a reference to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, famous for its 1940 collapse in Tacoma, Washington. Within two days of the council’s decision, news of a squirrel bridge had spread across the United States. Peters then reported that because of all the national attention, the bridge’s design “would have to be slightly more elaborate” than originally planned. After “three or four nights at [his] drawing board” Peters completed the plans for the bridge.
Nutty Narrows Bridge Plan
Nutty Narrows Bridge Plan

With a design in hand, Peters along with William J. Hutch, his brother-in-law and co-owner of the Amos J. Peters Construction Company, built the bridge in the company’s workshop at a cost of about $1,000. On March 30, 1963, the bridge was unveiled at a grand dedication ceremony, complete with marching bands.  A temporary platform for dignitaries to speak was also constructed at the site of the bridge. The Longview Police closed the street to traffic and the 60-foot-long bridge was hung over Olympia Way.  The Kelso Chamber of Commerce sent several representatives with a large box of peanuts labeled “Kelso Nuts for Longview Squirrels.” Chief of the State Patrol, Roy A. Betlach (who was representing Governor Albert Rosellini), “was lifted 20 feet above the crowd in a park department cherry picker personnel crane and snipped the bright blue ribbon dedicating what he had earlier called the ‘road for rodents’.” Reports of the dedication of the bridge spread far and wide. Articles appeared in newspaper such as the Denver Catholic Register, the London Daily Express; the News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Indiana; the Alexandria Gazette of Virginia; and The Daily at Des Moines, Iowa.” Even the Christian Science Monitor and Sports Illustrated Magazine.
 Nutty Narrows Media Coverage, Oregonian- March 20, 1963
Nutty Narrows Media Coverage, Oregonian- March 20, 1963
Over the years local businessmen have used the bridge and squirrels to promote their businesses in a tongue-in-cheek way.  A civic boaster group, called the Sandbaggers, even staged a campaign to import squirrels when the population dwindled over the harsh winter of 1968-69. Over the years, students, writers, and individuals of all ages who loved animals contacted Peters about the bridge. Peters was appreciative of the letters and personally answered each one, until they became so numerous that it became a burden. At that point, a year after the Nutty Narrows Bridge had been erected, he began responding with a form letter.  Today, members of the Peters family, the City of Longview, and the Sandbaggers carry on the fun and the tradition of making safe travel for squirrels.  In fact such efforts have spawned the construction of several additional squirrel bridges in the city. Over the years the bridge has been taken down a several times for repairs and has been moved four times due to the failure of the attached structural supports.  In 2010 it was reinstalled near it original location.  The Sandbaggers, once again in true form, held a “tongue-in-cheek” ceremony before convening at the Monticello Hotel for cake and squirrel-themed cocktails. The ceremony included “speeches, a prayer, cheerleaders, a ribbon cutting and a release of doves.” The Nutty Narrows Bridge is unique. While there have been other squirrel bridges proposed, only a handful of cities are known to have constructed them, and except for the new squirrel bridges built in Longview, none of these were in the United States. Over the years, the Nutty Narrows Bridge has been taken on almost legendary status.  It is listed in multiple tourist guides as a “must see” in Longview and has been listed on RoadsideAmerica.com, an online “Guide to Offbeat Tourist Attractions” as “worth a detour.” Postcards and shirts with a local artist’s design were made available for several years. While not the initial intent of the Nutty Narrows Bridge, its value as a means to promote the City of Longview has long been acknowledged. Today, the legacy of the Nutty Narrows bridge is embodied in the annual Squirrel Fest, a celebration of squirrels, was introduced by the Sandbaggers in August of 2011.  Since then three other squirrel bridges have been erected with plans for more. The nominated object itself consists of a symmetrical catenary bridge with a flattened canvas fire hose deck, and a 10’ long mock suspension structure at its center. It is approximately 60 feet in length.  The bridge structure was made from aluminum tubing, part of which was old TV antenna.  

 Stuff:

I've been getting the spare bedroom ready so I can paint it.  I replaced the funky plastic chandelier with a normal ceiling fixture.  Got a "real" ladder at the hardware store, so no more balancing on a chair for me.  It only took 40 trips up and down stairs to find which breaker controlled the ceiling lights. Good exercise.  Next I'll remove all the miscellaneous nails, putty the numerous holes, build shelves in the closet, add a closet door and trim. Then paint! After that all it will need is a bed.

Nate (my Tahoe) needs to have the interior air filter changed.  Called the dealer, for a fortune they will do it.  No thanks, a few pennies for a T-10 star bit, and a new filter, and I can do it myself. 


22 comments:

  1. That is a great story. I really do enjoy grey squirrels. The grounders not so much. Sounds like you have been busy there. (-:

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    1. CiNdEe, I enjoy the tree squirrels too. The grounders cause irrigation problems and bring rattlesnakes, ugh.
      Just trying to stay out of trouble...

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  2. Cute story. Loved reading it.

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  3. Who would have thought of that bridge:) You are the best "handyman" I know":)

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    1. Changes, It's very cool, and I liked that it is made of old fire hose and tv antenna.

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  4. "A lot of people don't know that." (Guess who?) Thanks for the squirrelly story.

    Enjoy your fixit jobs. I have about another hour on the shed / shop roof, and then on to primer time. I'll have warm and dry weather for about 24 hours to get it done and dried. Then the rain is due.

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    1. Woodsterman, Hope you got finished with the workshop before the snow flew.

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  5. Neat on the squirrels. I like watching ours with the big bushy tails. They though go up the gravel road with our nuts to a neighbor's taller fir trees.

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    1. Rain, We have a few here, they are very well fed by someone as there are peanut shells around.

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  6. I'd read about the bridge, but now, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story".

    We have at least four squirrel nests in the trees here. I noticed them the first winter we were here, and all the leaves were gone. I thought they were strange looking bird nests, and then my neighbor clued me in.

    And I'm not sure if the little critters are gathering our maple tree seeds for the winter, but they sure make a lot of trips from the backyard to the front yard!

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    1. drjim, Just a few here, they are very forward and not afraid to voice their opinion on what I do in the patio garden.

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  7. Wow! A number 10 Torx is really small! I just bought a security Torx driver in #10, in order to fix a fan, ( I failed ).

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    1. Scott, We don't fail, we just have a learning experience. lol.

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  8. Interesting story... And be careful with those #10s. They hit the carpet and DISAPPEAR... sigh...

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    1. Old NFO, Yes indeed, they are small, I bought two because sure as shoot'n...

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  9. Good story. Thank you. If you do not want the exercise, use the old electrician's trick with a screw in plug adapter and a radio to let you know when the power is cut off.

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    1. Mark, Glad you liked it.
      Thanks for the old electrician's trick!

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  10. What a neat story about the bridge! Thanks for that smile. I sure do admire your independent get-it-done ways, Brig. You're an inspiration.

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    1. Granny Sue, I was intrigued after they told me about it and then took me to see it.
      It's how we were raised in the back of beyond. Thanks!

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  11. Squirrels. They're ferocious and bold here in Texas, go figure, which makes me want to hunt them. End up with a satay/kebab type thing. But a broken leg's stood in the way of getting into the field, grrrrr.

    Good luck with the painting.

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    1. Padre, I have little experience of tree squirrels.
      Ground squirrels are both of those things, and they cause lots of damage in the pastures and around the barns. Hurry up and heal up so you can blast away.

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