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Today marks 76 years since ‘Galloping Gertie’ Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse

galloping-gertie-still

TACOMA — Powerful winds brought down the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge 76 years ago Monday.

Known as ‘Galloping Gertie,’ 42 mile-per-hour winds rocked the span on Nov. 7, 1940, making it twist like a ribbon until it snapped and crashed in the Narrows Strait.

A Tacoma News Tribune editor was trying to drive over the bridge, but was forced to abandon his car. No people were hurt, but a dog was killed in the collapse.

The disaster changed the way engineers designed bridges. Authorities believe the cause of the collapse was instability.

According to the Department of Transportation, the $6 million suspension bridge was considered state-of-the-art when it was built.

Before the bridge collapsed, University of Washington professor, F. Bert Farquharson was asked to look at the engineering of the bridge.

Because Gertie would normally sway in the wind, he recommended cutting holes in the solid girders to let wind pass through, or cover the girders with curved steel to deflect the girders.