NoeHill Travels in the American West: New Mexico

National Register of Historic Places in Santa Fe County

National Register #97000730: Otowi Suspension Bridge 9 August 2007
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National Register #97000730
Otowi Suspension Bridge
Highway 502 Over Rio Grande (Old Highway 4)
Built 1924

Located on San Ildefonso Pueblo land, the Otowi Suspension Bridge, is a single span structure fabricated, in part, by the Kansas City Structural Steel Company. It is the only suspension bridge associated with a public highway remaining in New Mexico.

This location has been an important crossing of the Rio Grande since prehistoric times when the San Ildefonso Indians called it Poh-sah-con-gay (place where the river makes a noise).

The Rio Grande was first spanned here in 1886 when the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad constructed a steel trestle bridge. Later, automobiles also used the railroad bridge, a practice common in New Mexico at the time.

The bridge was built in 1924 to open Bandelier National Monument and the Parajito Plateau to automobile tourism. The suspension design addressed the problem of periodic floodwaters scouring bridge piers and abutments.

Source: Adapted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1997.

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