|Black Cocker Spaniel, like Tubby|
The Narrows bridge heaved like a hammock. Sometimes a car approaching
would seem to drop clear out of sight with an undulation of the roadway. Yet the bridge was strong. Heavy winds failed to shake it; but when lighter, intermittent breezes swept in from the open Sound, it was agitated by a peculiar weaving, sinuous motion that its builder said looked like the movement of a snake under a rug. Some people got seasick at once when the bridge began to sway; some enjoyed the weird sensation, high above the water, with the wind howling and the bridge throbbing as if it were alive.
I drove on the bridge and started across. In the car with me was my daughter's cocker spaniel, Tubby. The car was loaded with equipment from my beach home at Arletta. Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car. . . . I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb. Around me I could hear concrete cracking. I started back to the car to get the dog, but was thrown before I could reach it. The car itself began to slide from side to side on the roadway. I decided the bridge was breaking up and my only hope was to get back to shore.
On hands and knees most of the time, I crawled 500 yards or more to the towers . . . . My breath was coming in gasps; my knees were raw and bleeding, my hands bruised and swollen from gripping the concrete curb . . . . Toward the last, I risked rising to my feet and running a few yards at a time . . . . Safely back at the toll plaza, I saw the bridge in its final collapse and saw my car plunge into the Narrows.
I probably wouldn't have gone out there, if it hadn't been for the dog. I liked dogs and had seen the Coatsworth's dog at a company picnic recently. Or, if I didn't have the camera, I probably wouldn't have gone out on the bridge. I got about 10 yards from the tower and stopped. Taking another squint into the camera viewfinder, I saw the span buckle and start to break in the center. I pressed the camera trigger and started to run.I tried to run up the yellow line in the center of the roadway, but found myself being bounced from one curb to the other and making no headway towards shore. I felt I could be tossed over the edge at any time. I was running in the air part of the time, because the bridge was moving faster than gravity. It dropped out from under me and then bounced back, knocking me down to my knees, banging the camera on the pavement. Behind me I heard rumblings and explosive sounds which scared the daylights out of me. Having played football during my junior high and high school days, I tucked my camera under my arm and charging low got that added ounce of energy from somewhere which enabled me to make some headway toward the bridge entrance.
Around 10:55 [Professor] Farquharson, who of all people should have known better, made another attempt to rescue Tubby. He retreated when the presumably terrified and disoriented dog bit his finger. Farquharson reached safety just in time, for shortly after 11:00 a.m. the structure reached the limits of its strength. The suspender cables, which hung from the main cables and supported the roadway, began to snap one by one. When the weight of the roadway exceeded what the remaining supporting cables could bear, 600 feet of it tumbled into the water below.
To picture how this works, think of how you held a blade of grass between your fingers as a kid and made it whistle, -- or how the strapping on a truck can be seen moving in the wind. That is roughly how the Windbelt can pull energy from the wind – then, it’s a second step to turn that energy of the moving membrane into electricity, which is done by actuating new types of linear generators.