Unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges

For Sparky and myself, curiosity drives passion which in turn fuels our life's engine. Our passion was capturing the story of both unbuilding the Grace (1929 - 2007) and Pearman (1966 - 2007) Bridges and discovering the unbuilders. It takes a lot of passion to track a project from July 2005 until April 2007 - rain, shine, hurricanes or moving to Singapore. We discovered the joy of discovery learning. Ken Canty opened the front door for us - then Steve Testa, Ponch Billingsley and Mickey Rogers opened many side doors. Below are the highlights of what we discovered, who we met and what we learned.

And a reminder from T.S. Eliot (East Coker from the Four Quartets)

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

May 3, 2006:
Unbuilding: Divers and Ironworkers

How else to start the day than checking up on P-3?

from a different orientation

The Pearman / Grace worksite

The Demolition Dynamics guys are busy planting explosives on the Grace

and Mickey's Advanced Blasting team is drilling C-3

From behind

All they while, Jackie and Michael are fishing for Grace sections

And a new story - Sparky and I have somehow missed the diving team out of Norfolk - but here they are: Anthony Ennis and Ken Morningstar (sitting)

and Riley Sutten

and James Keeling

inside the barge doing a bit of welding

The dive barge

Ryan Miller, the diver today


and the support team

and the dive gear

with Manny watching and doing the fetching and toting of Pearman sections

The Pearman unbuilding worksite - unbuilding the west cantilever section

a little burning (on the right)


Meanwhile, Jackie and Michael are continuing to fish

Grace sections from below

While there is some serious fishing from above - lifting a section

and bringing it home



and almost down

Richard (?) running the Pearman crane

and our ironworker acrobats on the Pearman

Then Kim takes Sparky over to the other barge

where Manny is working with the DD guys

who are planting

explosives on the Grace

But back at the Pearman - unbuilding the top section

while stabilized by the crane

Then lifting the section

and bringing it down

and down

where Sonny can uncouple it from the cables

And Stan above - just sort of chillin'

Cutting the next section

more cutting

and more cutting

The lower section is free

Then making the final cut above

lifting and lowering

to the barge below

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer