R.I.P. Dewey Bridge

Anyone who has ever ridden the Kokopelli Trail from Fruita to Moab knows what a sight for sore eyes the Dewey Bridge is. And now it's no more. The historic structure that spans the Colorado River -- and site of my midday rest on day 2 of my ride -- went up in flames two weeks ago.

Crews began tearing away the charred planks and blackened cables of the Dewey Bridge on Monday after fire gutted the 92-year-old structure that had spanned the Colorado River 28 miles north of Moab, Utah.

Flames blamed on a 7-year-old Grand Junction boy playing with matches Sunday afternoon had devoured the bridge’s creosote-soaked wooden deck and rails.Grand County sheriff’s officials said the blaze started downstream with a boy playing with matches.

The fire, pushed upstream by an upcanyon wind, burned beneath the modern bridge that spans the river 100 or so yards downstream from the Dewey Bridge, then ran up through the sage, rabbit brush and Mormon tea, charring some streamside willows up to and beyond the Moab side of the bridge.


“You could feel the heat from the highway bridge,” said Tyler Fouss, a Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer who was on the scene Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.

Thomas, who had ranched along the Colorado downstream from Dewey, said she was irked to learn how the fire started.

Ranchers years ago would routinely burn out bottomland such as the stretch that burned out of control, Thomas said.

They gave up those burns when newcomers called law enforcement to complain, she said.

“They made it impossible” to run ranches as the ranchers saw fit, she said. “All those people from California and New York should have stayed in the city.”

Dewey Bridge, I hardly knew you...

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