Seeing and honoring Galloping Gertie in Tacoma and Pierce County

Friday, December 14, 2018 12:00 PM by Matt Wakefield

The Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Galloping Gertie. To many people outside the city, Tacoma is perhaps best known as the city where the ill-fated bridge spent five months bucking in high winds in 1940 before collapsing and finding a new career as a SCUBA diving site.

Replaced by a new, more stable bridge – nicknamed Sturdy Gertie – in 1950 and supplemented by a second span in 2007, the original bridge retains some of its mystery, lore and interest.

There’s a legend that a mythical octopus lives in the ruins of the bridge. There’s a band out of New York City named after the bridge.

There are places around the South Puget Sound where you can see either pieces of the original Galloping Gertie, or exhibitions related to the bridge.

  • Washington State History Museum on the fifth floor showcases a piece of concrete and rebar along with a screening area for the famous video of the crumpling and buckling of the span.
  • Harbor History Museum has a full exhibition about Galloping Gertie, including a video and massive pieces that are undergoing research to confirm once and for all that they are indeed pieces of the original structure.
  • Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has a replica of the underwater environment around the ruins of Galloping Gertie, including living examples of what sea life you’d find there.
  • LeMay – America’s Car Museum has in its collection the first car to drive across the completed bridge in 1940, which was also the first car to travel over the replacement bridge.

Galloping Gertie, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge exhibition at Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Washington
The Harbor History Museum has an excellent exhibition about Galloping Gertie.

Got Gertie fever? Here are some suggestions:

  • Try out our Tacoma Narrows Bridge itinerary.
  • Have a beer at Narrows Brewing – perhaps their Galloping Gertie Golden Ale.
  • Drive through Five-Mile Drive at Point Defiance Park, which has marked viewpoints from which you can get a stunning view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • Stay overnight in downtown Tacoma, to see everything in one stay.

Author: Matt Wakefield

Matt is Travel Tacoma + Pierce County's communications manager. He's a Pacific Northwest native and outdoor enthusiast. He's also a minimalist, so we'll stop here.

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