In 1930, the president pressed a gold telegraph key to set off a celebration on the new bridge between Longview and Rainier, Ore.
These days, ribbon-cutting ceremonies are tired affairs. Did you know you can buy giant ceremonial scissors on Amazon Prime?
It’s true — there’s a global market for cliche.
Well, they did things a bit differently in 1930.
Take, for example, the unveiling of what’s now called the Lewis and Clark Bridge. Eighty-seven-years ago Wednesday, the 1,200-foot span across the Columbia River from Longview to Rainier, Ore., opened to traffic. It was a cross-state and cross-continental celebration.
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“Simplicity marked the ceremony,” The Times reported.
At the White House and joined by Washington state’s congressional delegation, President Herbert Hoover pressed a telegraph key “of Alaskan gold; adorned with nuggets from the far northern fields,” according to a report from The Times’ Capital City Bureau. That key sent a telegraphic message across the continent to the bridge deck.
“This electrical impulse released a huge American flag suspended from the highest girder of the bridge, permitting it to unfold majestically.
At the same time a knife severed a floral rope barrier that stretched across the structure and on that signal a siren proclaimed to the world that the newest highway link in the Pacific Coast’s system of communications had been opened. Then as the strains of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ died away and to the accompaniment of screaming whistles and the roar of daylight fireworks, Gov. Roland H. Hartley of Washington and Gov. Alfred Norblad of Oregon met and clasped hands …”