The Most Terrifying Bridge in Alaska Will Put You in a Cold Sweat
Some bridges provide a spectacular view of the surrounding landscape. Others are engineering marvels. However, structures like the most terrifying bridge in Alaska accomplish both. Take a ride to discover why this bridge puts travelers in a cold sweat.
Where Is the Most Terrifying Bridge in Alaska?
The most terrifying bridge in Alaska is the Captain William Moore Bridge, also called the William Henry Moore Bridge. It’s located along the South Klondike Highway, about 17 miles north of Skagway. The 300-foot historic bridge spans the Moore Creek Gorge and a seismic fault line. Moving across it will make you feel like it’s ready to fall over any minute.
Design of the Most Terrifying Bridge in Alaska
Engineers on the Alaska Department of Transportation Bridge Design Section in 1974 planned what would become the most terrifying bridge in Alaska. The asymmetrical single-pylon cable-stayed bridge has an H-shaped anchor to the south bank of the gorge. It’s stable but comes forward at a 106-foot tall, 15-degree vertical incline. The longest span is 270 feet with a 180-foot clearance above the water. It’s also 35 feet wide.
The Captain William Moore Bridge is designed this way because the Moore Creek Gorge is an active seismic fault line. If an earthquake were to occur, the south bank is secure. However, the north end of the structure isn’t. Despite this, the unstable terrain can’t support a more traditional design.
In 1986, construction enforced the bridge to accommodate heavy ore trucks from Yukon mines. However, the population increased, and heavy loaders weakened the bridge after a few decades. By 2015, it no longer met highway standards and was becoming too dangerous to travel on.
Captain William Moore Bridge Backstory
The most terrifying bridge in Alaska is named after Captain William Henry Moore. He was a pilot, prospector, and a steamship captain. He explored British Columbia and Alaska during the gold rushes. In 1887, William Moore visited the valley known as Shghagwei by local Tlingit Natives. Moore saw Yukon becoming a popular site for gold prospectors. As a result, he wasted no time preparing a new camp in the area.
William Moore and his son Ben created a homestead on 160 acres at the mouth of Skagway Bay, making it the first settlement in the small town. Over the next decade, they added a sawmill and a wharf. From here, the expansion led to the opening of the White Pass Trail. Their log cabin is still preserved in Skagway near the bridge and is the oldest structure in the city.
Skipping ahead almost a century, you could only get to Whitehorse, Yukon, from Skagway by the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. In 1976, the Captain William Moore Bridge connected Skagway to the Yukon highway. On this route, traffic passed the Moore Creek Gorge.
Replacing the Captain William Moore Bridge
In 2017, the state improved half a mile of the Klondike Highway and built a replacement bridge about 150 feet west of the Captain William Moore Bridge. Construction of the new structure concluded in 2019. It’s made of steel with more stable footings.
Engineers used a technique that essentially buried the steel bridge and then added a road deck on top to make it safer during seismic activity and give it a longer lifespan. Moreover, it appears as a normal embankment in the road.
Now, the most terrifying bridge in Alaska is a pedestrian walkway, and a historic attraction is Skagway.
Wildlife Near the Captain William Moore Bridge
Skagway is abundant with wildlife. Closer to town, it’s possible to see black and brown bears as well as bald eagles. But outside of town, coyotes, wolves, and marmots live in groups. Weasels and porcupines also roam around the Skagway wilderness.
Humpback whales are in the area year-round. However, they are more active in May and September during migration season. Near Skagway docks, seals, ducks, geese, and terns are popular. In spring, trumpeter swans and blue herons appear in the region.
Moose sightings in Skagway are rare but are common in the Yukon territory. So if you see a moose along the most terrifying bridge in Alaska, you’re lucky! It’s worth noting that Ben Moore had a pet moose named Carnation. The 11-month-old moose had a tendency to leave the property and roam around the Klondike River and the surrounding city. In fact, Carnation was a popular public spectacle. Ben Moore was even subject to a lawsuit from the city because of Carnation’s shenanigans.