Skip to main content

Idaho's Perrine Memorial Bridge over the Snake River Canyon

The better known of the two high bridges (the other being the Hansen Bridge) that cross the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho is the I.B. Perrine Memorial Bridge. Carrying US 93 some 1500 feet across and 486 feet above the Snake River, the Perrine Bridge is the eighth tallest bridge and the fourth highest arch bridge in the United States. Opened in 1976, the distinctive brown arch bridge was a replacement for the 476 foot high Twin Falls Jerome Intercounty Bridge. Locals say the bridge has always been known as the Perrine Bridge because of the man who was instrumental in getting it built. The bridge was originally officially known by a number, Bridge 17-850, but the bridge was officially named for Ira Burton "I.B." Perrine in 2000. Today, more than 32,000 cars, trucks and motorcycles use it every day to travel between Jerome and Twin Falls Counties.

The Twin Falls Jerome Intercounty Bridge, which was a colossal 2 lane bridge that was the third highest bridge in the world upon its opening in 1927, a bridge that cost $662,000 to build. There was a grand opening with much fanfare. The bridge was christened with a bottle of cider by the wife of Ira Burton Perrine, the man that the modern bridge is named after, and was celebrated by barbecuing twelve steers at the opening ceremony. The original bridge was tolled, with drivers paying 60 cents per car, which amounts to around $9 in today's money, plus a nickel per passenger. Idaho bought the bridge in 1940 and the tolls were removed.

Then in 1976, the current bridge was built and remains the same today as it did back then, three times wider than the original bridge. The upgrade cost $10.5 million and took three years to complete. The main span of the bridge was constructed using a stayed cantilever method where individual pieces of the arch were lowered down, held in place by a series of cables that radiated out from the end of an already completed approach span on either side of the canyon. This was a temporary measure. Once the two arch halves were joined in the middle of the bridge, the cable stays were removed from the structure and a high line was then used to place the final spandrel supports and deck spans.

The Perrine Bridge and the surrounding Snake River Canyon has a history of daredevil stunts and thrill seeking. The bridge is a popular destination for BASE jumpers from all over the world. It is one of the few structures they can use without special permits from the city. Known among BASE jumpers as the Potato Bridge, the 48 story drop from the bridge deck to the canyon floor has become legendary within the BASE community. In 2005, Miles Daisher jumped from the Perrine Bridge 57 times in less than 24 hours, hiking out of the Snake River Canyon each time. This is approximately the equivalent of hiking Mount Everest.

This is also in the general area of where Evel Knievel made his famous and unsuccessful attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon on September 8, 1974. To the east of the bridge, along the south rim of the canyon, the dirt ramp used by Evel Knievel when he unsuccessfully attempted to jump the canyon on his steam-powered "skycycle" in 1974 is still visible. A malfunction had caused Knievel to fall to the rocks of the Snake River Canyon, but fortunately, his only injuries consisted of facial cuts and minor bruises. The Simpsons episode "Bart The Daredevil" is based on Knievel's attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon. On September 16, 2016, stuntman Eddie Braun did what Evel Knievel did not, successfully jumping the Snake River Canyon in a rocket motorcycle built by the son of the man who built the original rocket motorcycle. The rocket motorcycle was named "Evel Spirit" in Knievel’s honor.

You can visit the Perrine Bridge by going to the visitor's center in Twin Falls, located next to the bridge. There is a walkway along the south rim of the Snake River Canyon, along with an observation deck. Pedestrian walkways along the bridge are also publicly accessible if you want to see some different views of the Snake River Canyon.


Small monument commemorating Evel Knievel's unsuccessful jump of the Snake River Canyon.

A picture and storyboard of the old Perrine Bridge.

Historical plaque dedicated to I.B. Perrine.

I.B. Perrine is pretty much the guy who invented Twin Falls, Idaho.

I.B. Perrine statue.

The seamy underbelly of the Perrine Bridge.

Looking a little west towards the Perrine Bridge. My other photos are west of the bridge.


There are a couple of golf courses located at the bottom of the Snake River Canyon west of the bridge.




Shoshone Falls is the other main attraction in Twin Falls and is certainly worth the detour.




How to Get There:



Sources and Links:
KTVB 7 - The History of the I.B. Perrine Bridge
Visit Idaho - Perrine Bridge
Visit Southern Idaho - Perrine Bridge
Visit Southern Idaho - Evel Knievel Jump Site
Highest Bridges - Perrine Bridge
MagicValley.com - Gallery: Perrine Bridge in All Seasons
Bridgehunter - Perrine Bridge
InfrastructureUSA - Great American Infrastructure: Twin Falls, ID: Perrine Bridge

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Vague Original Southern Terminus of US Route 91 in the Californian Mojave Desert

One of the more intriguing mysteries of the early US Route System in California is where the original south terminus of US Route 91 was intended to be located in the Mojave Desert.  This blog is a little different than my usual behind the wheel fare and explores why US Route 91 ultimately ended at US Route 66 in Daggett instead of Bannock. What ultimately became the US Route System was first discussed during the American Association of State Highway Officials ("AASHO") during their annual 1924 meeting.  Ultimately the AASHO recommended to the Department of Agriculture to work with the States to develop a system of Interstate Highways to replace the many Auto Trails in use.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways was ultimately commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and it's branch agency the Bureau of Public Roads in March of 1925.  The Joint Board on Interstate Highways first met in April of 1925 and decided on the new interstate road network would be known a

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395. The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s. Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog? 

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways constructed for automotive use.