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Bridge will commemorate pioneers who crossed river to settle west side

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A bicyclist rides along the Jordan River Trail east of the Utah Cultural Celebration Center at 1355 W. 3100 South. West Valley City plans to build a suspension bridge connecting the trail to the center that will commemorate the pioneers who crossed the river to settle the west side of the Salt Lake Valley.

By Pamela Manson

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 25 2013 11:58AM
Updated Apr 25, 2013 12:39PM

West Valley City • In 1848, Joseph and Susanna Smeath Harker became the first pioneers "over Jordan," walking across the frozen river near what is now 3300 South and settling in the western part of Salt Lake County.

To commemorate the event, West Valley City plans to build a pedestrian suspension bridge that would link the Jordan River Parkway on the east bank of the waterway to the west bank and the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. The Pioneer Crossing Memorial Bridge is slated to be completed and open to the public in late fall as part of the yearlong celebration of the center’s 10th anniversary.

"The bridge is really a nod to the history of the area," said Lynn Larsen, of the Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation Department.

It also is the first piece of what West Valley City and Salt Lake County officials have proposed as the Pioneer Crossing Park along the Jordan River’s west bank.

A master plan for the project envisions natural open space with trails and picnic sites rather than a typical manicured park. Proposed elements include the bridge, boardwalk-type pathways, a historical education area, natural art cultural garden, a pavilion and a campground.

The 25-acre area proposed for the park is between the Jordan River on the east, the Utah Cultural Celebration Center on the west, 3300 South on the south and Rocky Mountain substation property on the north. Land owners include West Valley City, Salt Lake County, Utah Power and Light and the Granger-Hunter Improvement District.

"This will be a sliver of wilderness in the midst of an urban valley," West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder said.

With its historic value and natural setting, the mayor predicts the park will be a big draw.

He added, "It’ll be the only place in Salt Lake County along the Jordan River where people can legally camp."

A suggestion by Winder, a historian, that a bridge be built to mark the crossing led to the city and county teaming up to create a master plan this year for a park in the area.

The mayor proposed a suspension bridge because that was the style used in Utah’s earlier days. A bridge was built over 3300 South (then known as 1400 South) in 1905, according to Images of America, West Valley City, a history of the community written by Winder.

The city was given a $300,000 legislative appropriation this year for construction of the bridge, which is still under design. Other parts of Pioneer Crossing Park might be developed piecemeal with grants and other funding.

"The master plan will be a blueprint for the years ahead as money becomes available," Winder said.

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC

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