SHELTON - The Mason County Sheriff’s Office says ‘enough is enough’ after 30 years of issues involving the High Steel Bridge in the South Fork Skokomish Canyon. Despite the danger, Sheriff’s officials say people regularly enter the canyon. Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury says the sheriff’s department continues to respond to rescue and fatality recovery operations each year.
“It’s costly, it's costing lives, time, energy and effort to deal with these issues. I don’t know what people don’t understand after 30 years of warnings about the dangers in the area, we can’t seem to get compliance,” Salisbury told iFIBER ONE News.
On June 27, 2019, a missing soldier’s body was recovered from below the High Steel Bridge. The soldier was hiking in the area when he was reported missing on April 7, 2019. Sheriff’s officials below the man fell from the cliffs into the water below.
Effective immediately, Salisbury says the sheriff’s department will begin to issue citations to those who go into an area adjacent to Forest Service Road 2340 and are within 100 yards on either end of the high steel bridge to a point 200 yards out from either side of the roadway and down to the high water level on the South fork Skokomish river. The rule runs concurrent with the U.S. Forest Service’s order which also includes the following: “Except for travel on NFSR 2340 and the South Fork Skokomish River, members of the public are prohibited from entering the area surrounding the High Steel Bridge. This area, being rectangular in shape, measures 400 yards in length and 200 yards in width.”
Salisbury wants to emphasize that the bridge is NOT closed, despite the wording used in the U.S. Forest Service order. He says the land around the bridge is off limits.
Standing 365 feet above the Skokomish River, the High Steel Bridge is the highest railway arch bridge ever built in the United States. The bridge was built in 1929 by the Simpson Logging Company and was converted to road use in 1950.