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Capilano Blog

23 Sep

Our Biggest Guest

September 23, 2016

On a dark, stormy winter night back in November 2006, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park hosted our Biggest Guest—a 46 ton, 300 year old Douglas fir tree. After withstanding 300 years of storms, blizzards, and rainfalls, this particular winter it took 18 centimetres of snow and an 80km gust of wind to snap its trunk and send the tree falling down at a whopping 100km/hour. As the tree tumbled toward the river, it fell right onto the Suspension Bridge leaving the bottom three-quarters of the trunk on the bridge while the top third snapped and fell into the canyon below. Luckily our steel cables remained undamaged and the bridge stayed in place.

So…. How did the bridge stay up and not crumble under pressure? Our cables can withstand 123 tons and they also possess an elastic quality allowing them to stretch and spring back upon impact. The Suspension Bridge also has anchors that are designed to shift during heavy impact; in this case, our 13 ton anchor shifted about 2 metres!


The park had to be closed for 3 months in order for the tree trunk to be safely removed. With 17 tons of weight on the bridge, the trunk could not simply be lifted otherwise it would create a spring-like effect shooting the bridge, tree, and any one on it up into the air. Instead, small slices were removed one at a time while pulley systems carefully lifted and swung the remaining tree from its perch.


Today, the remnants of the tree are still in the forest and act as a nurse log for future trees and forest life. You can catch a view of the nurse log on the park’s West-side!


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