One of the most breathtaking scenes in the Pacific Northwest is abandoned. Stretching across 827 feet and hidden away in Mason County, Washington, Vance Creek Bridge is one of the most popular and debated structures in the area. Looming at 347 feet tall, it’s the second-highest railroad arch in the United States and has sat unused for half a century.
Originally opened in 1929 by the Simpson Logging Company, Vance Creek Bridge was designed and utilized primarily as a logging railroad. With the ultimate decline of the logging industry it was decommissioned 30 years later, gaining attention when it was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1982 and the Mason County Historic Preservation Register in 2008. By 2006, Green Diamond Resource Company, a division of the original Simpson Logging Company, took ownership of Simpson’s forest lands and still currently owns Vance Creek Bridge.
Then, in the early 2010s, Vance Creek Bridge was suddenly in the spotlight again. Attracting photographers and thrill-seekers with its mesmerizing forest valley view and open structure. By 2013, it had gone viral, from an internet geotag that offers its precise location to an Instagram account dedicated solely to the 91 year old bridge. Over the years it has became adorned with graffiti and eventually gained its own hashtag with 13.6K posts.
Despite its popularity, Vance Creek Bridge is still private property. Green Diamond has attempted to defer trespassers with surveillance cameras, barbed wire, and partnering with local authorities to hand out fines. Entire blogs have pleaded with Green Diamond over the years, urging for the bridge to become an official tourist destination with updated safety measures. Although a representative from the company responded to the post and shared their hopes for the bridge, two years later a resource forester for Green Diamond put those dreams to bed for good. The company has even gone as far as to remove planks from the bridge to prevent future visitors from accessing it.
There is a glimmer of hope though. In 2018 news spread that a local bungee company was in talks with Green Diamond about a potential partnership and lease. Until then, Vance Creek Bridge will have to wait in beautiful isolation.