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DaleS

Gillespie Dam Brigde

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Traveling south yesterday we drove across the Gillespie Dam Bridge on Old US 80.

 

http://i479.photobucket.com/albums/rr153/c...9/Bridge004.jpg

 

The bridge opened on August 1, 1927 and handled US 80 traffic until 1956. Link to story here:

 

http://pr.state.az.us/partnerships/shpo/na...llespiedam.html

 

Gillespie Dam had better times.

 

http://i479.photobucket.com/albums/rr153/c...9/Bridge002.jpg

 

Dale

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I crossed that bridge in 2003 and recently revisited my visit when Jeff Jensen's Drive the Broadway of America reminded me of it. And now you've reminded me of it for the second time in about a week. The dam was damaged in 1993. Apparently, the possibility that it will be repaired is still alive. I'm guessing that arguments for it being crucial are weakened by surviving 16 years without it. :)

 

Did you continue on to Gila Bend and maybe a night under the flying saucers of the Space Age Lodge?

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I did continue to Gila Bend, didn't stop at Space Age Lodge as I travel in a motorhome and was

on my way to Ajo.

 

The dam looks pretty good as it is now, broken.

 

Hey Denny, we stopped at the Space Age Resaurant to have breakfast yesterday and

the flying saucers were hiding. ha ha

Edited by DaleS

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at a half mile long, I think the old bridge is a real *must see* for any auto enthusiast. It is by MM 22-23 (22 miles north of Gila Bend), so it is an hour detour for those in the Gila bend area, but I think it is still worth the trip! The Gila River there is bounded on one side by a lava flow, so there are some really neat geographical aspects there too.

 

As of the Winter of 2008-9, the bridge is still open, but it is in DIRE need of upkeep, so I'm not sure that it will be open much longer. Budget cuts and rumblings from AZDOT indicate that it may go the way of the Chain of Rocks bridge and become part of a bike trail and off limts to vehicular traffic soon.

 

:(

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I sure hope ADOT doesn't close the bridge. In late Jan. I travel from Quartzsite to Ajo and turnoff I-10 at Tonopah (exit 94) and

take Buckeye-Salome Road to Old US-80 to Gila Bend. It sure is better than Interstate and dead trap 85.

 

Next I'm planning a trip on El Camino del Dialbo from Ajo, AZ to Welton, AZ. Over 100 miles of 4x4 dirt Road.

 

Dale

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Just wanted to add a rather quirky trivia bit: The stretch of old US80 that includes the Gillespie Dam bridge is one of those rare stretches in which the westbound traffic was heading nearly due east, and vice-versa.

 

I'm tentatively planning a trip next Sunday (weather permitting--after a stretch of 80+ degree days, it has turned cold and rainy with a good chance of SNOW here in Tucson on Tuesday!) up old US80/89 from Tucson through Florence (Tom Mix memorial/death site!) and Phoenix down to Gila Bend and then home on (boring) I-8/I-10.

Haven't been over the old bridge in a good many years, and the post above makes me think that it may be now or never!

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Just wanted to add a rather quirky trivia bit: The stretch of old US80 that includes the Gillespie Dam bridge is one of those rare stretches in which the westbound traffic was heading nearly due east, and vice-versa.

 

I'm tentatively planning a trip next Sunday (weather permitting--after a stretch of 80+ degree days, it has turned cold and rainy with a good chance of SNOW here in Tucson on Tuesday!) up old US80/89 from Tucson through Florence (Tom Mix memorial/death site!) and Phoenix down to Gila Bend and then home on (boring) I-8/I-10.

Haven't been over the old bridge in a good many years, and the post above makes me think that it may be now or never!

 

mga707,

 

Oh Yah, the stretch through Florence....did that in my UofA days! And as for Tom...."When its Round up time in Texas and the Bloom is on the Sage......its time for a Ralstons hot breakfast"......if you are old enough to remember!

 

Have a great ride and keep us posted!

 

Opps, almost forgot my Tom Mix Straight Shooters Sheriff's Badge....with the signal whistle!

 

And while I'm at it, HERE is a 40 second intro to an old time (1946) Tom Mix radio program...I think 6 years after he died in the auto accident...but it might get you primed for your visit! (Borrowed legally from archive.org) Ah, the Old West!! B) And is it possible that was Gene Autry singing....he did that song, and it sure sounds like he might have been standing in for" long gone Tom" in the singing department. B)

 

ARTomMix.jpg

 

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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I've at last decided that the circle in the middle of the badge is the aforementioned "signal whistle" but I first thought it represented the cylinder from Tom's revolver. I did some quick math and concluded that, if Tom was toting a 5-shot pistol, he had to be a straight shooter.

 

mga707, let us know how that drive turns out.

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I've at last decided that the circle in the middle of the badge is the aforementioned "signal whistle" but I first thought it represented the cylinder from Tom's revolver. I did some quick math and concluded that, if Tom was toting a 5-shot pistol, he had to be a straight shooter.

 

mga707, let us know how that drive turns out.

 

Denny,

 

You are right! That is the signal whistle. It emitted a shrill high pitched tone that could only be heard across the room by humans, but brought dogs from across town!

 

And as trivia piled on trivia, I recall that the straight shooters of old kept only 5 rounds in a six shooter so an accidental hit on the hammer wouldn’t fire a live round into your leg.

 

So that no one, DaleS included, can claim I am totally off topic, here is my shot of the Gillespie Bridge taken almost exactly two years ago. It impresses with its multiple sections that make it look like a big snake strung across the desert landscape.

 

ARGbridge.jpg

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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"Shredded Ralston for your breakfast

Starts the day off shining bright

Gives you lots of cowboy energy

With a flavor that's just right

It's delicious and nutritious

Bite-sized and ready to eat

Take a tip from Tom

Go and tell your mom

Shredded Ralston can't be beat!"

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"Shredded Ralston for your breakfast

Starts the day off shining bright

Gives you lots of cowboy energy

With a flavor that's just right

It's delicious and nutritious

Bite-sized and ready to eat

Take a tip from Tom

Go and tell your mom

Shredded Ralston can't be beat!"

 

Jim,

 

Right! That's what the ghost of Tom Mix sang most of the time...to the tune of "When the Bloom is on the Sage" He only rarely sang the real words....and I know because I used to listen to the program in the 40's before dinner on our trusty old tube radio. It is a little interesting that even though Tom was alive when the show started in the mid 1930's, he was never on it.

 

Think what I would have to sell on Ebay if I had kept all those "secret decoder rings" and other premiums!

 

His death near Florence, AZ carries a message to all of us auto traveling today. According to Wikapedia, he couldn't stop at a washed out bridge and went off the end of the road, but was killed by an aluminum suitcase that hit him in the back of the head. Secure your suitcases and toys because they are still going 65 when you stop suddenly!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Even though this is getting further and further from the Gillespie Dam Bridge (a westbound topic with the conversation heading east) I'll continue to stretch things. I saw the killer suitcase (actually a makeup case) in 2004 while traveling Historic Route 66. The case's home is the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, OK, but was then on loan to the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK, where Tom reportedly performed now and then.

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Even though this is getting further and further from the Gillespie Dam Bridge (a westbound topic with the conversation heading east) I'll continue to stretch things. I saw the killer suitcase (actually a makeup case) in 2004 while traveling Historic Route 66. The case's home is the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, OK, but was then on loan to the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK, where Tom reportedly performed now and then.

 

Denny,

 

That is interesting!! I had no idea it survived! And if I ever get to Dewey, OK, I now have a reason to stop!

 

In a semi serious vein, it is this kind of dialog that makes the two lane roads interesting....the events, the signifigant sites, and the places to stop and visit. If Dale hadn't posted the Gillispie Dam Bridge, mga707 would not have mentioned the Tom Mix memorial, you would not have identified the location of the makeup case, and I would have no reason to stop in Dewey......as beamerchef would say "Its all good!" :rolleyes:

 

Now did I tell you the one about the traveling salesman......

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

 

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Jim,

His death near Florence, AZ carries a message to all of us auto traveling today. According to Wikapedia, he couldn't stop at a washed out bridge and went off the end of the road, but was killed by an aluminum suitcase that hit him in the back of the head. Secure your suitcases and toys because they are still going 65 when you stop suddenly!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

A little more to add to the Tom Mix car wreck death in 1940:

The 'killed by suitcase to the head' story is true, so I have heard. Also heard that it wasn't quite a washed out bridge over the since-renamed "Tom Mix Wash" that caused the accident, but a bridge that was being replaced at the time of the crash. Apparently Tom was driving too fast (supposedly 100mph) to see the "Detour" sign before the bridge construction and kept on going.

The 100mph figure is possible as he was driving a 1937 Cord 810, one of the fastest and most powerful prewar American autos, and the final glorious gasp of the dying Auburn-Cord-Duesenburg Indiana auto empire.

Unfortunately, the braking and steering technology of the day was no match for the car's ferocious power, nor did it have any of today's basic safety features. So, poor ol' Tom was a goner.

...and this isn't too far off-topic, because it did happen on old US80 (which was also US89 at the time between Tucson and Phoenix), and not too far from the Gillespie Dam bridge!

 

...and as an update, the Weather Channel is now forecasting that Sunday will bring a rain shower respite, so the 'top-down' trip in the Miata on 80/89 may be a 'go' after all! And I did drive to work (in the Vibe, not the Miata) through snowflakes coming down in the predawn darkness this morning! It all had melted by the time I got home, though...

Edited by mga707

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...in the Vibe...

Cool, another Vibe in the American Road Forum mini-wagon fleet. I have a Vibe and Chris Rowland & mobilene have Matrixs Matrixes Matrixi a Matrix each. If we lived closer, maybe we could form a precision drill team and get in parades like the Shriners.

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Cool, another Vibe in the American Road Forum mini-wagon fleet. I have a Vibe and Chris Rowland & mobilene have Matrixs Matrixes Matrixi a Matrix each. If we lived closer, maybe we could form a precision drill team and get in parades like the Shriners.

 

 

LOL! :lol:

I think the actual plural of 'Matrix' is 'Matrices'?!

The Vibe/Matrix are just fantastic little cars, period! Even though the auto press pretty much ignores them, at least "Consumer Reports" always gives them high marks. The joint GM/Toyota plant where they're made in Fremont CA is highly regarded as well. My '05 Vibe has been absolutely trouble-free from Day 1 (four years in June) and my local Pontiac/Cadillac/GMC/Saab dealer has been a great place to go for routine service. Yes, I'm one satisfied customer.

But for my road trip, I'm still hoping to take my '99 Miata. Winter in Southern Arizona is 'top-down' time!

 

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LOL! :lol:

I think the actual plural of 'Matrix' is 'Matrices'?!

The Vibe/Matrix are just fantastic little cars, period! Even though the auto press pretty much ignores them, at least "Consumer Reports" always gives them high marks. The joint GM/Toyota plant where they're made in Fremont CA is highly regarded as well. My '05 Vibe has been absolutely trouble-free from Day 1 (four years in June) and my local Pontiac/Cadillac/GMC/Saab dealer has been a great place to go for routine service. Yes, I'm one satisfied customer.

But for my road trip, I'm still hoping to take my '99 Miata. Winter in Southern Arizona is 'top-down' time!

 

I guess I need to look at a Vibe. We need a new car.

 

I waited in line to buy a Miata when they came out. I had to drive across the state and pay a premium over list to get it. It was a fun car, but it never quite matched my 1958 MGA for downright fun driving…..but then I was 20 when I had the MGA and in my 50’s when I had the Miata……Or maybe it was that the Miata had role up windows, no hand crank, and ran every day! Where's the "adventure" in that?!

 

Have a great ride! Oh, BTW, I lived on North Oracle (State 77) for a couple of years in the 1970's.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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I guess I need to look at a Vibe. We need a new car.

 

I waited in line to buy a Miata when they came out. I had to drive across the state and pay a premium over list to get it. It was a fun car, but it never quite matched my 1958 MGA for downright fun driving…..but then I was 20 when I had the MGA and in my 50’s when I had the Miata……Or maybe it was that the Miata had role up windows, no hand crank, and ran every day!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Roll-up windows? How primitive! :D

Actually, I kind of wish my Miata had roll-ups, rather than power. It would be nice to be able to roll down (or up) the passenger side window without turning the key on. Always wondered why some auto engineer never thought of power windows with a manual override.

 

Yes, definitely consider the Vibe/Matrix. I picked the Vibe because a similarily-equipped Vibe was about $3K less than the equivalent Toyota version, at least back in '05. Also, I was trading in another Pontiac (I won't mention the model, but it was an '01 first-year version of the vehicle the auto press loved to hate!), so I figured that the GM dealer would give me more on the trade-in. At first I didn't care for the '09 redesign of both vehicles (since they're on the Corolla platform, when the Corolla changes, they do too), but it has grown on me. Not that I'm anywhere near being in the market for a new one. Mine's good for many years yet.

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Hey Guys, keep it up all this interesting to me. I don't own this thread. Neat to hear about Tom Mix's death.

 

Dale

Edited by DaleS

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Roll-up windows? How primitive! :D

But not nearly as primitive as the take-em-off-and-put-em-in-the-trunk (or garage) ones that Dave had on that MG. They were usually called side curtains and I had them on a '57 Austin-Healey 100-6. Those were plexiglass panels that could be slid halfway open like a shower door. Some use side curtains vs. roll-up windows as a distinction between a roadster and a convertible.

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But not nearly as primitive as the take-em-off-and-put-em-in-the-trunk (or garage) ones that Dave had on that MG. They were usually called side curtains and I had them on a '57 Austin-Healey 100-6. Those were plexiglass panels that could be slid halfway open like a shower door. Some use side curtains vs. roll-up windows as a distinction between a roadster and a convertible.

 

Denny, Dale,

 

Wow, I am impressed! Any guy who had a 57 Austin Healey is a prince.....I only dreamed about having one. When was this?

 

And I had no idea you could hold forth on plexiglass side curtains.....But you don't mention that they rattled at all speeds...in the MGA they were stored behind the seats. That made it tough to get the cover over the fuel pump off so you could whack it with a wrench to get it going.

 

Did the 57 Healey have a crank like the MGA? It was great when you had a dead battery, but you needed to know how to hold the handle if you didn't want a broken thumb. Ah...another "lost art."

 

Dale, Thanks for letting us mess around here.....Did you note the old white semi abandoned motel just out of Gila Bend on the left as you headed toward the bridge? I have a photo or two, but no idea about its history.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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I like my '03 Matrix, I just wish that I didn't have to put a $3500 transmission in it last summer.

 

Auto or manual tranny? How many miles were on it when it blew?

$3500...yikes! I guess the days of replacing a tranny for $600, like I did in 1992 on a 1982 Plymouth Gran Fury (slant six engine) are long gone...

 

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Wow, I am impressed! Any guy who had a 57 Austin Healey is a prince.....I only dreamed about having one. When was this?
This owner was a pauper. It was in 1967-68 and the Healey was on its last legs. It went from me to the junk yard but it was great fun while it lasted. A removable hardtop that stayed on all winter and off all summer. There was a folding top that went up only once and it took three college students to manage it that time. When parked, the interior was usually "protected" by a tonneau cover.

 

Did the 57 Healey have a crank like the MGA? It was great when you had a dead battery, but you needed to know how to hold the handle if you didn't want a broken thumb. Ah...another "lost art."
No, but the car that preceded it, a 1961 Renault 4CV, did. One of the many 4CV oddities was its water cooled rear engine. The crank fit through a hole in the rear bumper and came in handy on many occasions. The Healey had its own unusual tool: a big rubber mallet for the knock-off hubs.

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