Thursday, 18 August 2022

The Fate of the Dirty Harry Trestle

The Fate of the Dirty Harry Trestle
Fans of the original Dirty Harry (1971) have always had a certain ‘fascination’ with the trestle or the ‘Dirty Harry Bridge’ as it has widely come to be known.  It was featured of course during the climax of the film when Harry makes the jump from the trestle onto the school bus.

A few months ago, our U.S. correspondent Kevin Walsh sent me a couple of pieces which centred on the dismantling of the trestle and a picture illustrating one of the many protests that took place in an attempt to stop the removal of this historic and iconic landmark. The issue of the trestle removal was brought to a head in June 2003 when the bridge was damaged by a tractor trailer carrying a mounted crane. The crane was a load too high to pass under the structure. It struck and damaged the main beam on a section of the wooden trestle. The City of Larkspur declared the damaged bridge a hazard to public safety, determined it could not be repaired, and ordered it removed. 

Above: Removal of 100 feet of the trestle was completed in August 2003 despite significant protests by bicyclists and others.
The replacement for the trestle (below) is an upscale bicycle and pedestrian bridge that cost $13 million. The contemporary, unadorned steel bridge is notable for its long unsupported centre span as well as a lack of any reference to the site’s railroad heritage.
It was some 19 years ago that we (a group of Eastwood fans) became aware that the famous Dirty Harry Trestle was going to be demolished for good. A good few of us felt that this was a great tragedy as it really remained an important landmark. So some of us worked with a local friend in order to save the section of the rail from which Clint jumped onto the school bus. It was all worked out perfectly (geographically) - it was studied and researched as to which lane the bus was travelling and from there worked out exactly which portion of the rail track Clint was standing on to leap onto the bus. Working with the construction company that was dismantling the trestle the piece was measured and a form of 'laser cutting' process was used to cleanly cut it into sections. What we were left with was a nice, unusual piece of nostalgia. Yes, essentially, it’s just a heavy piece of steel, but something I have never regretted owning. In fact, I look at it on my window seal every day and still love it, knowing the history and relevance behind it. If anything, it certainly makes for a perfect conversation piece.  
In February 1976, a fan and a group of his friends made the pilgrimage to the famous location, but not before making their own Dirty Harry cut-out! Like a lot of fans, they also worked out a position and proceeded to climb the trestle and nail their own Dirty Harry tribute to the famous landmark.

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