Kamloops residents solve mystery, history of iconic Pritchard Bridge | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops residents solve mystery, history of iconic Pritchard Bridge

Pritchard Bridge with old-style trestles and arch showing.
September 12, 2021 - 1:59 PM

Last week we reached out to Kamloops residents for information on the history of the Pritchard Bridge, a one-way wooden structure near Kamloops. 

It appears the history of the Pritchard Bridge near Kamloops is not a mystery at all, as readers and residents responded with information and memories.

READ MORE: History of iconic Pritchard Bridge near Kamloops is a mystery

Long-time Pritchard resident and historical research hobbyist, Laura LaFave shared information about the first Pritchard Bridge, courtesy of Pursuit of Memories, an historical book about Pritchard by Stewart Wendy.

"At first a wharf was built at Pritchard for sternwheelers to tie up to, to off load cargo and passengers," LaFave said. "Then a scow type ferry was built and later cables were added and someone was hired to operate the ferry. In 1920 the first Pritchard bridge was built."

The first bridge had a lift span in the centre for river traffic and in 1933 it was extensively renovated and a new deck and railing was built, according to LaFave's research.

The current bridge replaced the updated original in 1985 and has an arch instead of a lift span, her research said.

Kamloops resident, Andy Philpot worked on a paddlewheeler, the Wanda-Sue, taking people up and down the South Thompson River from 1984 to 2003. He spoke about the second Pritchard Bridge.

"I worked with George Slack, the owner of the Wanda-Sue," Philpot recalled. "George started building it in 1978, finished it in '82 and got it certified to run in '84. We ran passengers up and down the South Thompson river for twenty years."

Philpot said the original Pritchard Bridge was replaced in 1985 due to its pilings starting to decay, especially in the area where the lift span had been installed.

“Highways suggestion was just to remove the bridge which would have required driving to Chase or LaFarge to cross the river,” he said. “But with pressure from the people of Pritchard area who wanted it replaced with a two lane bridge, the government backed down and promised to build the one lane bridge, to reduce the cost, that is in place today.”

Philpot added the bridge is arched to a height of 25 feet to accommodate passage of anything moving down the South Thompson River.

If you know more about the history of the Pritchard Bridge, you can add comments and memories here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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