Kent resident Michael C. Atkins submitted this retrospective on the Allentown Covered Bridge (built 1903, burned down 1956), which spanned the Union Pacific rail line. The bridge was replaced by the Codiga Bridge, which carries S 129th Street over Interstate 5 and railroad tracks. Allentown is located in King County just north of Tukwila and west of Skyway. Michael's family has lived in the Skyway area since 1956.
Allentown Covered Bridge
When one thinks of covered bridges, usually the New England states come to mind. Covered bridges are rare in the Northwest. In 1903, the Union Pacific Railroad built a bridge in Allentown over its tracks, for vehicles. They made it a wood truss covered bridge.
This bridge was called by several names, The Allentown Covered Bridge, The Foster Covered Bridge, also The Steele Hill Bridge, for the pioneer Steele family. The bridge attracted people from Seattle and the surrounding area for Sunday drives. As a boy, I would ride in my father’s car over this bridge on our way to Foster Golf Links, where my father would janitor the clubhouse to pay for green fees. I would help him by sweeping the steps. I always looked forward to seeing and crossing that old red wooden bridge.
I’ve read [in Kay F. Reinhartz, Tukwila: Community at the Crossroads] that over the years the bridge caught on fire several times due to sparks spewed from the smokestacks of the steam locomotives passing underneath. The bridge had water barrels attached to its outer rails for fire fighting. In 1956 the bridge caught fire and burned down for good. My father always suspected that kids did it. None-the-less, the bridge was gone. It saddened me greatly, even at the age of nine.
A concrete bridge was erected in the 1960s and was renamed the Codiga Bridge after the nearby Codiga family and dairy farm. The bridge crosses I-5 and the railroad tracks at S 129th street.
It is a shame the covered bridge didn’t survive, even though it wouldn’t have been capable of handling the traffic that the concrete bridge currently does.