100th Birthday Party for the Interstate Bridge!

PDX Bridge Festival was excited to present a celebration honoring the 100th anniversary of the Interstate Bridge which was held Saturday February 11th, 2017 at the Red Lion on the River – Jantzen Beach.

It was an amazing event where the public was invited to join us for a family friendly Interstate Bridge centennial extravaganza!

“This is going to be a fun and educational event honoring a bridge that helped connect vibrant communities and the broader region”, said Nancy Chapin, from PDX Bridge Festival. “Prior to the bridge opening in 1917, the only way to cross the Columbia River was by ferry boat”. 

In honor of this amazing bridge, we held an essay contest titled "My Interstate Bridge Adventure" with cash prizes for our winners.  In the 9 - 13 age bracket the grand prize was $200, age 14 - 18 was $300and age 19+ $500.  There were many entries and the contest was well received.

Also at the event was an extensive pictorial exhibit honoring the Jantzen Beach area and its historic significance to the region sponsored by the Oregon Historical Society, live music by the Frett Tang Nippers, snacks and beverages, bridge art vendors, and of course a huge birthday cake!

The Columbian newspaper in February 1917 hailed the bridge opening as “the greatest day in Vancouver history”.

Mayor Timothy D. Leavitt of Vancouver says, “For the past 100 years, the Interstate Bridge has provided an invaluable link between our two communities, affording the people of SW Washington great opportunity to work and play south of the Columbia River. As Vancouver is now coming of age -- the second largest city in the metro area -- the trek north for Oregonians is much more appealing. Vancouver’s downtown is bustling and growing. Our Fort Vancouver National Park and Historic Site offer amazing historical education and experiences. And with the Vancouver Waterfront development underway, visitors will enjoy a 7 acre waterfront park, trail, restaurants and shops. With necessary improvements to the Interstate Bridge, our region may for the next 100 years enjoy this vital link to our culture, economy and shared prosperity”.

The Oregonian reported on February 18th, 1977, “For Portland and Vancouver, Feb. 14, 1917, was a day when dreams came true, a day of political fevor when governors and mayors talked and shook hands and mingled with crowds; bands played, cannons boomed, school was out, stores and offices closed – and Oregonians rushing to be among the first to “lunch” in Vancouver stripped the city’s restaurants clean of anything edible by 2pm”.   

Mr. Gordon Stuart was the first person to pay a toll and cross the Interstate Bridge.  At the stroke of midnight on February 15th, 1917, he bought tickets No. 1 and No. 2, crossed to the Oregon side with ticket No. 2 and retained ticket No. 1 as a souvenir.

PDX Bridge Festival is a local Portland non-profit which organizes and celebrates the regions amazing bridges and the rich history behind each.