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.

September 16, 2006:
Unbuilding the midsection of the truss

Here is the worksite - Grace's tower, Chris's 7550 crane in the launching position and Robbie, Lewis and Carlos ready to start phase II.

Lewis (left in his blue shirt - he must have 7, one for each day; Carlos and Robbie) ready to attach the cables for Chris

Robbie starting his acrobat warmup

The cables to the left and the acrobats to the right

Chris moves the cable into position

Lewis attaching the cable

A closer look at Lewis and his blue shirt(s)

Wrapping the cable around the cross brace

Carlos demonstrating the spread-eagle acrobat position while lewis hands the cable around the back of the beam

Robbie here is just chillin' a bit

The cable is now looped around the far vertical beam

and placed just under the cross braces

What Chris sees from below

All 4 cables in place

and Robbie moves into position for some burning

Burning through the vertical beam

Carlos burning

A closer look

sort of an after-burner

Robbie burning

Cutting a cross brace

Carlos working on another section

Chris and his 7550 support the structure while

Robbie makes an inspection

and a look at from Chris's perspective

Carlos burning through the splice plate

and Robbie backing him up (literally)

The final burn

Coming down

and Chris lifts up

Grace is free

Gently lifting - what a balancing act

From below


and turning

a bit more

up, up and away

and slowly down




the landing spot is in sight





Gentlemen, Grace has landed

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer