Airplane Curve Snowshed, 1950s

This 1950s-era postcard shows a Tri-5 Chevrolet traveling eastward on Highway 10, presently I-90.
This 1950s-era postcard shows a Tri-5 Chevrolet traveling eastward on Highway 10, presently I-90.

To improve safety on what was then Highway 10, the State Department of Highways planned for two snowsheds to be built over sections of the westbound lanes, totaling 1,800 feet. Bids for construction were called in February of 1950, and were awarded to C.V. Wilder Co. and Gaasland Co. Inc., both of Bellingham, WA. Construction began in the fall and progressed quickly due to the use of precast construction. The project was scheduled to be finished by November 1, 1950 at a total cost of $1,120,000.

The snowshed pictured on the postcard above was the larger of the two. Located at Airplane Curve, about a mile west of the Summit, it spanned 1,300 feet, was 15 feet high, and had a pavement width of 24 feet. It was demolished sometime in the early 1980s, but the concrete retaining wall remains.

A modern-day view of the Airplane Curve showshed from Google Maps.
A modern-day view of the Airplane Curve showshed from Google Maps.

The smaller snowshed at Lake Keechelus, only 500 feet long, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. After 64 years of service, it was dismantled and recycled as part of the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project. A time-lapse of the removal can be seen here.

U.S. HIGHWAY 10 just west of the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. Snowsheds protect the highway in this critical slide area insuring year round uninterrupted use. The long range program of four-laning this popular cross state highway is fast nearing completion.
U.S. HIGHWAY 10 just west of the summit of Snoqualmie Pass. Snowsheds protect the highway in this critical slide area insuring year round uninterrupted use. The long range program of four-laning this popular cross state highway is fast nearing comple
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