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The first Hansen Bridge was the first rim-to-rim bridge built over the Snake River Canyon.

The Twin Falls-Jerome Intercounty Bridge, which later became known as the first Perrine Bridge, followed about a decade later.

The Hansen Bridge was built just north of the town of Hansen in 1919.

A half century later, controversy erupted when a Idaho Department of Highways publication stated — and a Times-News article repeated — that the bridge was named for pioneer brothers John and Lawrence Hansen.

Readers complained about the error, saying the Hansen brothers had no connection to the bridge. One reader, Genevieve Utt of Eden, presented a letter titled “How the Hansen Bridge Got Its Name, By the Man who Named It.”

In the letter, dated 1967, W.F. Brewer, a former Twin Falls County Commissioner, explained the name.

“I suggested calling it the Hansen Bridge as the town of Hansen was the nearest geographical designated spot, and the town of Hansen was my home,” Brewer wrote. “The name was not given in honor of any man or men...”

The letter is on file a the Idaho State Historical Museum in Boise.

Construction of the bridge was to begin in 1917, but was delayed when World War I broke out. The bridge, touted as the highest suspension bridge in the world at the time, was completed in 1919.

Apparently, engineers did not hold much faith in the future of gas engines, said a publication of the Idaho Department of Highway. The single-lane decking was make of wooden planks and was narrow — so narrow that two wagons could pass only if using extreme caution.

Decking was suspended 325 feet over the river by giant cables strung from two towers — one at each end of the bridge.

Because state funds were not available for such construction at the time, counties floated bond issues to raise the money. Twin Falls County and the Hillsdale Highway District in Jerome County collected enough money — $100,000 — to pay for the bridge, according to the publication.

The state of Idaho took over maintenance of the bridge in 1936. The bridge was replaced in 1966.

“The old bridge has survived from the horse and buggy days to the era of big trucks and speedy sports cars,” said the publication, “but its usefulness is has passed... In a word, it is old.”

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Mychel Matthews reports on rural issues and agriculture for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at


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