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.

October 11, 2005:
Dropping the Town Creek segment of the Pearman Bridge.

I was out of town this week (bad timing) and thanks to many - we accumulated a good collections of video and still images - Amy Spires and her daughter, Miranda, captured the event with video: Pearman Blast (6 Mb AVI video) while Bryant Stowe and Sparky Witte captured individual photos.

As I understand the process, the goal was to drop the truss section as 11 segments between the pins that link the truss to the cantilevered segments as described from looking at the Pearman segment from the Grace Bridge. The buoys would mark each of the 11 segments.

This is the before - as seen from Sparky's boat

and this is just after as seen from Bryant Stowe's location

Here you can see that the left 3 segments broke up according to plan while the right 8 segments remained connected

A different view from Sparky's boat

And at about the same time from Bryant's vantage point

And down they fell


Lots of sound and smoke (fury) - signifying quite a bit

This is a good view of the after - with the remaining cantilevered segments still projecting beyond their supports on the left and right

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C. Frank Starmer