Historic Gillespie Dam And Bridge

The Gillespie Dam was built in the early 1920s. It is approximately 1700 feet long and about 56 feet tall. It was a concrete gravity dam located on the Gila River in Arizona. (Wikipedia/Dam)

The Gillespie Bridge was completed and opened to traffic in 1927 and became part of US 80. The Gillespie Dam Bridge is a steel truss constructed bridge located a short distance downstream from the dam.

National Register Of Historic Places

In 1956 US 80 was decommissioned and became a local road. The heavy traffic the bridge once carried was down to a local trickle. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 5th, 1981. (Wikipedia/ Bridge)

Heavy Rains Were Just Too Much

Due to very heavy rains in winter 1993, Arizona’s area rivers and streams experienced very heavy flows. Due to these heavy flows of water on January 9th a section of approximately 120 feet of the dam collapsed into the river. The dam was never rebuilt. A small levee was constructed to divert water into a pond for irrigation purposes.

Our trip to the dam and bridge was actually part of a motorcycle ride we did looping around the Sonoran Desert National Monument. It was our last stop.

Ongoing Construction

There is ongoing construction to the bridge and there is only one-way traffic allowed through at a time. We went over the bridge, turned around, and came back over the other way parking in a small designated parking area.

There is a path leading to a Gazebo with a part to the original pulley system for moving the concrete during the original construction. There are cool views from the Gazebo of the bridge, dam and surrounding area. Unfortunately, The Gazebo, display, and portions of the bridge are covered in graffiti.

There Has Been Wildlife Sightings

We walked under the path to the Gazebo which leads to a path that takes you under the bridge and out to the dam. People have reported seeing deer and other wildlife. We only saw ducks.

It was amazing to see the broken section of the dam. To imagine the way it just collapsed and the water rush that ensued must have just been intense. For us, it was just a peaceful stroll along the water.

Final Thoughts

This was an interesting outing. We always love to find these little pieces of history in our travels. The fact we could ride over the bridge, view the area from the Gazebo, and walk along the river to the dam was awesome. We would definitely recommend anyone who is in the Maricopa County area to stop by and check this out.

Date Of Visit: February 26th, 2019
Cost: $0

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