The Long Journey to San Pedro

By Melinda Roney

Bascule Bridge

Some do not remember the Pontoon Bridge on Ocean Blvd that allowed immediate access over the Cerritos Channel to Terminal Island. Immediate is much too strong of a word. The bridge was 2 wooden structures that floated on the water and would slide back to provide an opening for the smallest sailboat or the largest ship. Many hours of my childhood were spent waiting for the bridge to open to traffic. I can only imagine the frustration of workers or Naval personnel that tried to cross over. The bridge was originally built after World War II as a 6-month structure to provide better access to the Naval Shipyards and the Navy Base. It lasted for 24 years and was replaced by the Gerald Desmond Bridge in 1968. Those with less patience or a job to get to would drive to the Henry Ford Bridge (also known as the Badger Ave. Bridge) in Wilmington. It was built in 1948. It was a drawbridge (Bascule Type Bridge) and was subject to closure to allow large ships to pass. At least you didn’t have to wait for the sailboats. The Commodore Schuyler Heim Bridge was an elevator bridge built next to it in 1963. Today, the Ford Bridge is used for trains. After we made it across the drawbridge we then had to take the Ferry Boat from Terminal Island to San Pedro. The Vincent Thomas Bridge, a suspension bridge, was built in 1963 and replaced the ferry. I have fond childhood memories of the “Long Journey” to San Pedro and I think of them today as we “zip” over the waters to the other side.