Constructed in 1917, the Woodruff-Snowflake Bridge connects two cliff faces above the Little Colorado River. Originally placed in Winslow, it was relocated in 1939 when a wider bridge with greater load capacity was built in Winslow. In 1988, the original structure was placed on the historic register–one of many on the National Parks Historic Register created by Omaha Structural Steel Works. It was last renovated in 1940.
Those historic factors, along with the formerly poor condition of the steel structure and abutments, are the reasons why a renovation plan had been adopted by Navajo County for the bridge. When plans were approved and bidding completed, a contractor was selected and construction began in 2017 with Arizona Surveying playing a key role in the restoration project by providing Land Surveying services.
The original bridge was comprised of two main components: the steel truss structure itself and a pair of concrete abutments—one on each side. The steel truss was secured to the abutments with large bolts embedded in their concrete.
For the restoration, the steel truss had to be jacked and raised above the abutments and the abutments completely rebuilt. Critical to this process was knowing the exact location of all abutment bolts before the truss was raised so the new bolts would be constructed in the same positions. This would ensure a proper fit when the newly restored truss was lowered onto the new abutment and bolts.
The original abutment bolts were exposed and subsequently located precisely and accurately by Arizona Surveying. After the bolt positions were surveyed and perpetuated, the bridge truss was raised and the abutments replaced. The replacement process included surveying and relocating the old bolt locations on the new abutments. When the abutments and truss renovation are completed, the truss will be lowered on to the new abutment bolts.
The Woodruff-Snowflake Bridge will continue to serve transportation needs in Navajo County along with being a historical landmark. After completion of the renovation project, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that the bridge will be around for another 100 years. Take a drive to Navajo County someday to see it and don’t forget your camera.