The historic Bedspring Bridge across Williams Creek in the San Juan Valley offered an exciting experience for adventurous travellers.

SOOKE HISTORY: Bedspring Bridge was unforgettable experience

Historic span crossed Williams Creek in the upper San Juan Valley

Backwoods roads have always been popular with folks who like getting out into the wilderness.

We’re told that driving onto the Bedspring Bridge which crossed Williams Creek in the upper San Juan Valley was a never to be forgotten experience.

Taking in the view from this bridge in the mid-1960s we see Lew Dempsey, local Sooke RCMP detachment officer in-charge during the 1960s, with his wife Ioline and their family.

The entire watershed areas of the San Juan River, Bear Creek and Harris Creek were crisscrossed by logging railroads and then later by truck routes, offering spectacular views of deep gorges.

Gerry Burch, long-retired now from his position as chief forester and superintendent of B.C. Forest Products Ltd, came to re-visit Sooke and Renfrew recently and spoke of the time that the bridge was built, around 1960.

A young graduate forester at the time, he was working along with a Bear Creek engineer, Glen Forrester, who designed the “bedspring bridge.”

BCFP officials had learned that the cable car ferry system on the Fraser River linking Boston Bar and North Bend was installing new cable; accordingly, the used cables were for sale. No sooner heard than purchased – BCFP bought the cable lengths which began a new life supporting the planked bridge deck shown here, with four strands strung underneath.

While heavy equipment could not take this route, the Bedspring Bridge provided an access route for work crews in the San Juan Valley to reach Shawnigan Lake.

Gerry recalled that it was considered a bit scary to cross the bridge and drivers were warned not to stop in the middle but to drive straight through.

Doug MacFarlane, comparing notes with Gerry Burch and Lorne Christensen about their younger days in the San Juan, had his own memories.

He still remembers with shock coming upon a group of young people one day, who were perched on the edge of the bridge stringers, legs dangling over, beer bottles in hand, apparently oblivious to the drop of several hundred feet to the creek bed below.

Though this legendary bridge has been dismantled for two or three decades now, we are glad our collection includes this photo from Jube Wickheim, making sure this fascinating piece of local lore is not totally lost to us.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of Sooke Region Museum.

 

 

Just Posted

Custom motorcycle and wood cutter stolen from Sooke motorcycle shop

2006 Husqvarna motorcycle and 2-ton log splitter taken from outbuilding

Remember Spunky? Santa came out to Sidney to check on him

Red-tailed Hawk made headlines last year after being stolen, raised by eagles

MISSING: 59-year-old Pamela Fletcher

Fletcher was last seen in the area near Royal Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 10

Mainroad South Island reminds drivers to keep them in the loop

Call the hotlines for concerns on local provincial highways

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Woman guilty of impaired driving in death of Vancouver Island pedestrian

Man in his 70s killed in 2016 Courtenay multi-vehicle incident

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read