Developing story: Vance Creek Bridge

We’ve been in contact with Patti Case from the Green Diamond Resource Company, the company owning the land around the historical, magnificent and dangerous Vance Creek Bridge outside Shelton in Mason County. Yesterday we reported on the possible end of the bridge as Instagram knows it.

Due to the ongoing safety concerns and vandalism at the bridge, including people setting fires on the trellises of the bridge itself, the owner of the land has begun removing the boards on the bridge, making access (which was already prohibited and illegal, btw) much harder. By doing so, they are dismantling a big piece of Washington State logging history.

Patti responded to our plea to preservation with the following email (posted unedited and with permission):

“Thank you for your recent article on Vance Creek Bridge. It’s unfortunate that no one sought to contact Green Diamond Resource Company in search of the facts before writing the post. Like you, Green Diamond recognizes the unique attraction that the bridge represents. We believe that a public entity that specializes in parks and other attractions should own and operate the bridge. A mid-sized forest products company simply isn’t equipped to provide and maintain the amenities required for such an attraction.

In 2008, Mason County expressed interested in converting it to a trail, but after a feasibility study was completed and attempts to pursue funding stalled, the county determined it would be unable to acquire the bridge because its insurance risk pool was unwilling to take it on. As that study and determination occurred, social media made the bridge exponentially popular. In light of that popularity and the county’s decision, we recently contacted Washington State Parks and have begun conversation with them about converting the bridge to a destination attraction.

In the meantime we have been taking steps to put the bridge off limits. As you know, it is extremely unsafe. You mentioned a fire in July, that was one of several that have been started on or near the bridge in the past five years. Each one threatens our livelihood, the trees that surround bridge. Last week, yet another fire, this one started ON the bridge by one of these illegal trespassers, burned many of the rotting ties and rendered that section of the bridge even more treacherous. We will continue to do everything we can to keep people off it. At the same time we are hopeful that Washington State Parks will proceed on a path to convert this to an asset in our community rather than a dangerous liability.

Thank you for your interest in Vance Creek Bridge. We will be happy to keep you informed of our progress in partnering with Washington State Parks to create an attraction. In the meantime, we ask that you, along with your readers, stay away from the area.”

To clarify:
We did reach out to Green Diamond numerous times over the past few years, trying to get their input and a formal response. Now we have one and we’re glad.

Next stop for us: Washington State Parks and Mason County officials.

Further:
Vandalism, trespassing and risking your life for the sake of that perfect selfie is not something we condone here at The Outdoor Society. We’re no fools and understand that most people who have visited the bridge in the past few years have not been there to celebrate Washington Logging History- they’ve been there for the thrill of the perfect #ThatPNWBridge Instagram shot.

However, celebrating and preserving history and seeking adventure can go hand in hand. We’re all for that.

The Vance Creek Bridge at the end of August, 2016. Images Via Teddi Mills
The Vance Creek Bridge at the end of August, 2016. Images Via Teddi Mills

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