The Mystery of San Marcos Bridge

Between the manilla folders of the Blair Birdsall collection is a series of blueprints and drawing sheets of a bridge the John A. Roebling Son’s Co. calls San Marcos Bridge at Rio Lempa.

San Marcos Bridge 1

At first glance, they are like any other blueprints, the blue gritty surface laden with starkly white lines depicting meticulously drawn diagrams, labeled with crosshatching for the foundations underneath and numbers for the elevations above. Each blueprint tells a small story of the detailed narrative, illustrated with precision and care. Each blueprint is not just a diagram, or a schematic, but both a memoir and fortune teller’s prediction, supported by a system of mathematics and physics, crafting and guiding its creation. They are not remarkable.

Further into the collection, in a photo album crammed into the spaces between Drawing Sheets and Proposals are two photographs, unlabeled, yet familiar.

The crosslinked suspension cables line the sides of the images, behind the crowd of Salvadorans and far into the distance is the Chinchotepec Volcano. This is the San Marcos Suspension Bridge on opening day in 1952. To Salvadorans, the bridge is known as th“Golden bridge” or Puente de Oro. On October 15,1981, the bridge was destroyed. A new bridge was built overtop and the San Marcos Bridge became a ghost in the blueprints.

San Marcos Bridge 2



By Greg Edwards


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