The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver

We Did It!

PDX Bridge Festival, the authors, the designers, the production manager, the content contributors, the funders—especially Portland Public Schools, the Transportation Research and Education Consortium, and Lola and Julian Pike—worked together and almost 5,000 books will be delivered to schools and libraries in December 2014.

Final product: Hard cover, 240 pages printed full-color on 100# paper and smythe sewn with reinforced binding—in other words, a book built to last as long as a steel bridge.
Book Fact Sheet

If you missed the book launch at Portland Community College’s SE Portland campus on December 13, 2014, here is where you can find the book and new Big & Awesome Bridges poster. 

Where to Buy Online?

People can buy the Big & Awesome book at PDXBF’s website Cost is $50, with discounts to schools, public libraries, and teachers. Questions about discounts, contact the authors: / 503 330 0900

Where to Buy in Portland?

The Oregon Historical Society Museum Store will be the exclusive storefront retailer, 1200 SW Park Ave., Portland 97205 

Big & Awesome Bridges Poster

New! A Big & Awesome Bridges poster is for sale, printed on 80# stock and meant to last. Two sizes: 12×18” and the classroom size 16×24”. The smaller poster retails for $8, the larger for $12. 

Posters are carried at:
Powell’s on Burnside 
Friends of the Library Store Multnomah County Central Library
Boys Fort in downtown Portland
Oregon Historical Society Museum Store

All proceeds from sales of book and poster go toward paying off the project’s outstanding printing and binding debt.


Full Color Pages

Full color pages with unique photographs and illustrations

Rich Content

Historical and contemporary facts about all 22 of the Portland and Vancouver area big river bridges, including four railway bridges

Foot Bridges

Details and photos of our our nine local footbridges


Interviews with bridge engineers and others

Student Art

Bridge poetry and art from elementary students

Math Exercises

Teacher resources


Step-by-step instructions to build and load-test a truss bridge

And More…

Additional digital content will be available




PDX Bridge Festival:
Nancy Chapin

A 501 (c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, PDX Bridge Festival’s mission is to raise public awareness and foster appreciation of Portland’s Willamette River Bridges through educational, historical, cultural and artistic programming. Our team consists of artists, event planners, local government, leading businesses, media partners, and Portland’s top audio/visual houses, and draws on wide creative talents to produce awe-inspiring public arts celebrations with longevity and magnetism.



Writer/Project Leader:
Sharon Wood Wortman

A member of the PDX Bridge Festival Advisory Council, Sharon is the author of The Portland Bridge Book, first published in 1989. Since then she has taken 20,000 students and adults bridge walking, published a model bridge building and testing curriculum for elementary students, and created “BridgeStories—Storytelling Slide Show.” A former Oregon Chautauqua scholar, she was named the Journalist of the Year by the American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon Section in 2007, and has been the recipient of two Regional Arts & Culture Council project grants: one to produce and co-edit a book of poems about bridges by 70 poets, and the other to write “The Bridge Lady,” a one-woman show she performed in 2009. She has walked twice between the flagpoles on the Fremont Bridge, the latter climb, in 2009, culminating in the CD “Bridges! Bridges! Bridges!” with the booklet, “12 Steps for Climbing the Fremont Bridge.” Both walks, though she didn’t know it at the time, were warm-ups for her performance as part of the Moth Radio Hour at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in 2011 before a live audience of 2,500. 


Co-Writer/Engineering and Technical Advisor: Ed Wortman

The co-author of The Portland Bridge Book (third ed., 2006), Ed moved to Portland in 1971 to work on the construction of the Fremont Bridge, the longest tied arch bridge in the world at the time. He later joined Multnomah County’s Bridge Section as Engineering Services Administrator. He was a major contributor and leader during several of the county’s Willamette River bridge projects, including the 1999 $22.7 million rehabilitation of the Hawthorne Bridge, the seismic evaluation of the county’s bridges, and a series of mechanical and structural renovations to the Broadway Bridge valued at more than $30 million. He is now helping the County with construction of the new Sellwood Bridge. Ed was named Civil Engineer of the Year in 2004 by the American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon section. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree in civil engineering/structures from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Harvard University.



Edith Fuller

Edith’s professional careers began in California teaching junior high school math, then continued as librarian at UC Berkeley and UCLA libraries. Later, in Oregon, she became a teacher librarian, working first at MLC and then as district librarian and system administrator for library automation for Portland Public Schools. Her interests include languages (in recent retirement, completing third year Danish at PSU), reading, gardening, and playing with paper, i.e., making movable books, creating special greeting cards, designing creative snowflake/stars for the winter season, and also presenting workshops on pop-ups, stars/snowflakes, small booklets, etc. to school library staff at Oregon Association of School Libraries conferences.



Design Team

  • Dean Williams
  • Brandon Hafer
  • Yuko Ohnuma-Oyler
  • Shallin Mayher
  • Madeline DeCotes
  • Cece Cutsforth (not pictured)

Design Technology Curriculum Advisors

Nicole Zimmerman

Nicole Zimmerman, vice president of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, and President of the Portland State University student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, is a third year student in the Civil and Engineering Department at PSU.


Corey Castelow

Corey Castelow, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Granby High School (Virginia), is now a second year environmental engineering major at PSU. The two are editing the design technology (Bridge in a Box) curriculum included in Big & Awesome, and acting as the outreach coordinators for SWE members being trained to go into elementary classrooms to help teachers and students in the Portland-Vancouver area build and load test wooden model truss bridges. Advising them is Tom Szymoniak, an instructor in the PSU Civil and Environmental Engineering department. 


Children’s Art

Sabin/ACCESS Art Project,
Christopher Lamp

The Bridge Art Project is a combined effort of both Sabin School and ACCESS Academy. The Council of Greater Schools commissioned Christopher Lamp, the art specialist at Sabin and ACCESS, to help facilitate the creation of art for this project that became a theme for the Council of Great Schools conference held in Portland in 2010. As part of The Big & Awesome Bridge book, 14 new artistic bridges have now been created to complete the Bridge Art Project series. Some of these images have already found their way onto the Portland Bridges poster (available at Powell’s Bookstore) to benefit the publishing of the book.


Content Advisor

Lisa Van Clock

A third grade teacher at DA Grout Elementary School in Portland, Lisa enjoys the challenges of making curriculum material accessible to ALL of the students in her room.


Production Designer

John Laursen

The recipient of the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award, given to a person or organization whose contributions have enriched Oregon’s literary community. Laursen is a writer, designer, printer and publisher who is the owner of Press-22, which publishes finely designed books and does text-based public art projects. Laursen has worked on the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, the Walk of the Heroines at Portland State, and memorials for John Reed and Hazel Hall. He is the co-author, with Terry Toedtemeier, of Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia Gorge 1867-1957.


Special Thanks to our Indiegogo campaign donors!
With your generous contributions we were able
to raise $4,551 during the campaign and another
$4,588 after its end date, for a total of $9,139!

  • Extra special thanks to our $1,000 donors:
  • Mark Van Duser (Epsilon Engineering; Beaverton, OR)
  • Lee & Dolores Golden (Vancouver, WA)
  • $150–$500
  • Tiffany Adams
  • Douglas Auburg
  • Deborah Bloom
  • Patrick C. Clancy
  • Robert Clerihew
  • Betty Dowell
  • Catherine Dummer
  • Brian Eustis
  • Susan Fell
  • Amanda Fritz
  • Stan & Shirley Ghezzi
  • Kathryn Hafer
  • Krystina Johnson
  • Roxanne Karr
  • Janet Klinke
  • Jeanette Kloos
  • Tony & Christy Lester
  • Nikole McGuinness
  • Pete & Joanie Melrose
  • Kelly & Aaron McNutt
  • Trisha Parshall
  • Tova Peltz
  • Shelley Sanders
  • Eric Schwarz
  • Gwyeth Smith, Jr.
  • Christina Stratis
  • Kathy Sugnet
  • Tonia Twigged
  • Charlie & Dawn White
  • Gary Wright
  • Nancy Varekamp
  • Stephen Young & Jane Fellows
  • $10–$149
  • Stephen Backer
  • Rebecca Burrow
  • Emily Carlson
  • Donald Colburn
  • Brook Collison
  • Drew Danhorn
  • Madeline DeCotes
  • Frank Engel
  • Dolores S. Fell
  • Richard & Jane Groff
  • Ann C. Hargraves
  • Amy Herrera
  • Bob Johannsen
  • Sharon Keast
  • Janine Bertram Kemp
  • Shirley Kishiyama & Edward Taub
  • Alex Lockard
  • Keith Massie
  • Margaret & Chuck Maggio
  • Linda Prinsen
  • Allen Renz for Francesca Gebhardt
  • Dianne Rodway & John Becker
  • Meead Saberi
  • Darrell Schuh
  • Amy Schutzer
  • Carol Shokey
  • Judith Tannenbaum
  • Jason Tell
  • Yumei Wang
  • Todd Wilson


Bedrock $4,000 and above

  • Edith and Will Fuller






Arch $2,500 – $3,999

Truss $1,000 – $2,499

  • Columbia Bridge and Geer
  • Epsilon Engineering (Mark Van Duser)
  • Lee & Dolores Golden
  • Hamilton Construction
  • Hardesty & Hanover
  • Hayhurst School PTA*
  • KPFF Consulting
  • Morel Ink*
  • North American National Cartographic Information Society*
  • Portland Ironworkers Local #29
  • THA Architecture
  • T.Y. Lin International
  • Vigor Industrial
  • WH Lochner
  • Wildish

Girder $250 – $999

  • American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon Section
  • American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon Section Younger Member Forum*
  • BergerABAM, Inc.
  • Charles Birnstiel, P.E.
  • Bittner-Shen Consulting Engineers
  • CH2M Hill
  • Coral Sales
  • Fought & Company
  • Dorothy Gage
  • Geographical Information Society*
  • JLA Public Involvement
  • The Marylhurst School*
  • Mayer-Reed
  • Kelly & Aaron McNutt
  • Nutter Family Foundation
  • Parametrix
  • Portland Area Teachers-Retired*
  • Portland General Electric
  • Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon (PLSO)
  • James Ruddell, P.E.
  • Slayden-Sundt
  • Society of American Military Engineers Portland Post
  • Thompson Metal Fab
  • Don Wagner, P.E.
  • Willamette Jetboat Excursions

Rivet $25 – $249

  • American Society of Civil Engineers Southwest Washington Section
  • Avamere at Sandy*
  • Beverly Cleary Elementary School*
  • Sylvia Bogart for Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc.*
  • Hearts and Clubs Open*
  • Northwest Aero Pix
  • Pacific Northwest Chapter Northwest Railway Society*
  • Parsons Brinckerhoff Engineering
  • St. Anthony School*
  • Scottish Rite of Oregon*
  • Sea Reach, Ltd.
  • Stacy & Witbeck
  • Structural Engineers Association of Oregon*
  • Third Rail Repertory Theatre*
  • Time Out Comedy*

Rivet Individuals $25 and above

  • Anonymous
  • Douglas Auburg
  • Mike Baker Family, Mike, P.E., Cathy, Amanda, and Sarah
  • Mike Bair*
  • Mark Bodyfelt
  • Diane Carver
  • Sybilla Cook
  • Nancy and Jon Decherd
  • Noreen Drake
  • Julie Greb, P.E.
  • Eddie Herzig Family*
  • Cecelia Huntington
  • Katherin Kirkpatrick
  • Shirley Kishiyama
  • J. Jay Kushner, P.E.
  • Melissa Madenski*
  • Anne McLaughlin
  • Hattie Mead
  • Cabe Nicksic
  • Lola Pike
  • Steven and Joann Price
  • Susan Quanbeck*
  • Halle Sadle and Family
  • Tom Scanlon, Christine Colasurdo, Luke Scanlon*
  • Arlen & Rita Sheldrake*
  • Tom Szymoniak, P.E.
  • Edward Taub
  • Terri Theisen
  • Shelley Varner
  • Dawn and Charlie White
  • James Wood, P.E.
  • Jan and J. Rae Zweerts


*In-kind service provided for the donation.