Recently, a reader questioned the authenticity of sections of Galloping Gertie on display at the Harbor History Museum (letter, 10-1). He has expressed his concerns before, and in response we did further investigation.
We have consulted with bridge scholars, who are unable to confirm or deny if the pieces are authentic. We have spoken with engineers who worked on the third bridge who feel that ours are likely pieces of the first bridge due to their original proximity to other known bridge remnants.
As-built construction records have been reviewed by an engineer, who found evidence that the rivet patterns on the museum pieces match sections recorded in the as-builts. Post-collapse photos show twisted pieces of steel consistent with those we hold.
History is always a mystery; a story that evolves as new facts and viewpoints are discovered, analyzed and considered. We recognize that the pieces on display are part of a “history mystery,” and we have signage that reflects that.
Based on our findings so far, we are comfortable displaying them as probable pieces of Galloping Gertie. However, we invite those who have expert or firsthand knowledge about the first bridge to join us in our efforts to learn more.
We invite everyone to visit the museum, see the pieces and form their own opinions. Stay awhile to learn more about the rich history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula through hands-on exhibits, three large exhibit galleries and historic one-room school. Just like Galloping Gertie, history rocks!
(Kilmer is executive director of the Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor.)