AHS Blog

Fairbanks Event – Lecture by Matthew Reckard, Wed 11/19

Date Posted: November 13, 2014       Categories: News

The Tanana Yukon Historical Society invites the public to “The Mears Memorial Bridge: Crowning Link in the Alaska Railroad,” a lecture by Matthew Reckard.


Wednesday, November 19

7:00 p.m.

Pioneer Museum at Pioneer Park



Alaska’s longest bridge span is the Tanana River railroad crossing at Nenana. Built in 1922-23 and now known as the Mears Memorial Bridge, it is surely one of Alaska’s most underappreciated historic resources. Like Rodney Dangerfield, it gets no respect. Despite the credentials of a National Landmark, it isn’t even listed in Alaska’s Heritage Resources Survey. Happily, it still serves its original purpose well and should be with us for years to come.


The Mears Bridge was the final and crowning link in the railroad. The first train crossed in February 1923, a year after the rest of the 470-mile line was finished. The 700-foot long Pennsylvania through truss is said to have been the longest truss span in the United States when completed. It is still the third longest simple truss in North America and the longest span of any kind in Alaska (the Gastineau Channel main span at Juneau is second, at 620 feet).


A long time resident of Ester, Matthew Reckard is a licensed engineer and an architectural historian, with Master’s degree in historic preservation. With these tools, he’s designed repairs and rehabilitation of many historic bridges and buildings. A member of the Pioneers of Alaska, he’s also a former member of Historic Preservation Commissions in Fairbanks and Bloomington, Indiana. (You may also know him as a committed thespian.)


For more information about this and other lectures sponsored by the Tanana Yukon Historical Society, please call 488-3383, or e-mail: tyhs@alaska.net