In his memoirs, the late Kenneth Balcomb of Albuquerque reminisced about an ancient Indian footbridge across the Rio Grande at San Felipe Pueblo. The structure consisted of huge willow baskets filled with boulders and bridged with timbers and, later, planks.
“As I remember, there were ten basket caissons. As they dammed the river considerably, the water level above them was raised, causing the flow between the baskets to be quite rapid. During flood time, the water would flow over the baskets, even at times dislodging some rock filling. In spite of this repeated punishment, the Indians claimed that in sixty years a basket had never washed out.”
The feds built a modern truss bridge upstream of the Indian structure and, over the Indians’ objections, tore out the basket caissons. The following spring, at flood peak, two of the steel pier supports were sucked out of their concrete foundations and “dashed downstream with a great roar amid twisted girders and planks.”
A Boy’s Albuquerque - 1898-1912, Kenneth C. Balcomb, UNM Press, 1980
(Image from NYPL digital gallery)
(Posted here first April 2005)