This Forgotten Bridge Once Made an Important Connection

Leschi Bridge was once an essential route for Seattle settlers

By Eva Seelye


September 28, 2016

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

You’ve likely stumbled upon it, nearly concealed beneath the brush in Leschi Park, just south of Madrona, and dismissed it as another old, forgotten bridge.

But Leschi Bridge, named after Chief Leschi of the Nisqually tribe, was once part of a route that played a vital role in Seattle transportation, linking settlers along Lake Washington to what is now Pioneer Square. Originally, the route was a trail created by the early Nisqually tribe, and later was used as a logging road by white settlers. Eventually, the Seattle Railroad Company decided the trail was an ideal site for a cable car bridge, which it completed in 1884.

The steam-powered cable cars, appointed with stained glass and oil lamps, significantly decreased travel time from Lake Washington to downtown Seattle by transiting the original trail’s rough terrain and forest-covered ravines via the bridge’s high trestles. A portion of Leschi Bridge­­ still arches over Lake Washington Boulevard; walkers use it to connect to nearby neighborhoods.

Sadly, the cable cars are no longer with us.

 

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