GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Built in 1928, the Kaibab Trail Suspension Bridge, or Black Bridge, was so remote that the site could not be reached by motor vehicles.
According to the National Park Service, the 122 tons of materials for the structure was hauled by mules and manpower down nine miles of the south Kaibab Trail. Around 40 members of the neighboring Havasupai Tribe also joined the effort, carrying the one-ton, 550-foot suspension cables single-file to the construction site.
A marvel of its time, the Black Bridge was recently named a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
According to ASCE, more than 200 projects worldwide have earned the designation of ASCE Historical Civil Engineering Landmark, one that illustrates the creativity and innovative spirit of civil engineers. Almost always performed under challenging conditions, each of these engineering feats represents the achievement of what was considered an impossible dream.
The Kaibab Trail Suspension Bridge was nominated by the ASCE Arizona Section to the ASCE History and Heritage Committee in 2016. The dedication ceremony was held Feb. 23 in conjunction with the 5th annual Grand Canyon History Symposium.
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation’s infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency.