Before Pasadena City Hall contracted him to design the Colorado Street Bridge, John Alexander Low Waddell had already earned his stripes as one of the foremost engineering minds on the planet. A native Canadian who graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York, he’d travel to Japan to advise its government and teach. After returning from overseas, he started blowing minds. In Chicago, he created an articulating, “lift bridge” enabling ships to pass beneath them, and then others over the Mississippi River and elsewhere in partnership with mechanical engineer John Lyle Harrington. Medals would be draped Waddell’s neck by emperors; his books were must-reads at technical schools. Few could match his design production.

It wasn’t until he came to my hometown around 1911-1912 that the walrus-mustached bridge go-getter ran headlong into intrigue and resistance so stiff he must’ve never wanted to visit California again! It was truly a bridge too far, Progressive Age or not. Read my fiction debut, Arroyo: A Novel, to discover why.