The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) operated 248 camps in Idaho between 1933 and 1941. The famous jobs program kept 88,000 young men working in Idaho, most of them from far-flung states across the country. It was a big jobs program for Idaho men, too. According to Ivar Nelson, who with his wife Patricia Hart, has amassed a vast collection of material on the CCCs in Idaho, one in five Idaho men—about 20,000—served in the CCC during the depression. Check out their Civilian Conservation Corps in Idaho Collection.
The CCCs built roads, cattle watering ponds, Forest Service buildings, trails, and most of the facilities in Heyburn State Park. They planted trees and fought soil erosion. And they built a bridge across the Salmon River.
The Manning Crevice Bridge, about 14 miles upstream from Riggins, was a 248-foot-long suspension bridge that was part of an ill-conceived road project. That project was a plan to make a road along the Salmon from North Fork to Riggins, uniting the state roughly from border to border. The CCCs started on both ends, meaning to meet in the middle, perhaps driving the equivalent of a golden spike to celebrate.
People who valued the wildness of the river were opposed to it, but the CCCs plunged on, oblivious to politics. They made good progress on both ends until steep canyons started to bring a dose of reality to the project. By the time World War II kicked up, sending young men on another mission, it was clear that funding and topography would kill the project.
The Manning Crevice Bridge, named for John C. Manning, a CCC worker who lost his life during its construction, was probably the most visible relic of the venture. It served back country travel for decades.
The bridge was deemed unsafe a few years ago by the Federal Highway Administration. It didn’t get a lot of traffic, but it was the only access to that side of the river, so they determined they needed a safe, one-lane bridge. The general contractor that won the bid, the RSCI Group in Boise, also won an award for the project, which was completed in 2019. The new Manning Crevice Bridge is only the seventh structure in the world to use an asymmetrical, single tower bridge design. It is the first such bridge in North America (see photo below). Though of modern design the bridge was built using a weathering steel that provides a densely rusted patina that gives it an antique look while protecting the structure.