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Oct. 27, 2021

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Clark Asks: Golden Gate Bridge replica in Ridgefield spans interests

Variety of curiosity-seekers drawn to bridge man built on Ridgefield property

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Denny Heasley catches his breath while walking down to the Golden Gate Bridge replica at his home in Ridgefield. The bridge is 110 feet long and 17 feet high. In the decade since the bridge went up, the Heasleys have received a number of visitors.
Denny Heasley catches his breath while walking down to the Golden Gate Bridge replica at his home in Ridgefield. The bridge is 110 feet long and 17 feet high. In the decade since the bridge went up, the Heasleys have received a number of visitors. Nathan Howard/The Columbian Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — For more than a decade, passers-by in Ridgefield have enjoyed the sight of a small, orange bridge. It’s not just any bridge, though.

Located on the corner of Northeast 209th Street and 10th Avenue, the 110-foot-long and 17-foot-high structure is a replica of San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge — looming over a large pond on the property of Denny and Delrae Heasley.

“I painted it this summer. It was looking faded,” he said.

“Faded and worn out, like us,” Delrae Heasley chimed in from the kitchen.

The bridge caught the attention of Doug Shannon, who asked about it at The Columbian’s Clark Asks site.

The Heasleys moved to their home about 15 years ago. That’s when Denny Heasley decided to build the bridge, which hadn’t crossed his mind before moving onto the property. After his Harley-Davidson motorcycle was stolen, he said he cashed a $22,000 insurance check and started buying steel from an acquaintance for a “good price.”

“I got to thinkin’ what I could do with it,” Heasley said. “Because of the pond, there’s no direct way to walk out to the road.”

He chose to copy the Golden Gate Bridge because “it’s neat,” he said. Also, the design of the bridge seemed easier to duplicate than others.

A Columbian reporter first wrote about the replica bridge in March 2006. At that time, Heasley had nearly completed his project. He expected to be done by the spring. About a dozen people were helping him to finish the task.

As Heasley pondered the history of his handmade, local landmark while sitting in a living room recliner, his wife busied herself in the kitchen, dressed from head to toe in green and red Christmas attire. Their tiny Yorkshire terrier, Gia, yipped from her bed under the coffee table.

Outside, the bright orange of the bridge was starkly juxtaposed against a dreary December sky.

No one stopped by to gawk at the bridge. The Heasleys said the number of visitors tends to drop during the winter months.

But before the bridge was even completed, people were knocking on the Heasleys’ door asking to walk across it — taking photos on and of it. One couple asked to get married on the bridge, though the Heasleys don’t recall if that actually happened.

In the decade since it went up, there have been a number of oddities among the visits. Bicyclists often meet up to eat lunch on the bridge. An engineer stopped by the property, wanting to know how Heasley built it. A traveler from Sweden made the trip out to Ridgefield at the suggestion of another Swede who’d done the same.

The people who stop to look at the bridge are mainly curious, Heasley said.

“The first year, it drove us crazy,” Delrae Heasley said. “People were here constantly.”

The bridge has not changed all that much since 2006. Denny Heasley has replaced bits and pieces here and there. He gave it a fresh coat of paint over the summer. He said he’s always working on it when possible.

“It still ain’t done,” he said.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter
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