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TACOMA: Before there was a Murray Morgan Bridge

Letter by Bernice L. Youtz, Tacoma on Feb. 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | No Comments »
February 19, 2013 2:15 pm
Jesse Holder is so found of the 11th Street Bridge (officially called the Murray Morgan Bridge) he has its image tattooed on his arm, Friday, February 1, 2013.(Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)
Jesse Holder is so fond of the Murray Morgan Bridge that he has its image tattooed on his arm. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

Re: “Bridge links city’s past, future” (TNT, 2-16).

My father would not have seen the Murray Morgan Bridge when he visited in 1908. It was not yet there. In 1908, my father, then 19, had been working for several years to earn money for college but decided he could afford a vacation.

He was a native San Franciscan, wished to visit the Pacific Northwest and booked passage on the steamship US President, 400 feet long and transporting freight and passengers to the Puget Sound. It boasted one of the first wireless sets on the Pacific Coast, capable of ranging from 500 to 900 miles.

More than 50 years later, my father would write an account of the voyage. He remembered elaborate, multicourse meals served in the dining saloon. The second night out they reached Victoria, B.C., and he photographed the Empress Hotel under construction. Then the ship turned south to Seattle and Tacoma.

In Tacoma, he went ashore and climbed the bluff to photograph the ship docked below. He found time to visit Point Defiance Park and take pictures of animals at the zoo. As they headed north up Colvos Passage, he snapped a photo of the smelter.

He missed the 11th Street/Morgan Bridge that trip but would see it later when he was stationed with the U.S. Army Engineers at Camp Lewis in 1917. He came to know Tacoma well then and developed a love for the Northwest. He was happy to spend his last years at my home in Olympia.

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