Brian McKinney and Inge Wilson want to save several pieces of the old Kawkawa bridge to be used later as a tourism display.

Saving pieces of history: Group wants bridge parts stored for tourism use

Now that the new Kawkawa Bridge has officially opened, focus has shifted to the dismantling of the old bridge.

While not scheduled until August, some Hope residents are already appealing to council to save pieces of the bridge.

Brian McKinney is leading that charge. He spoke to council last Monday night to outline the plan.

“There are key pieces to the bridge that we would like to see stored, preserved and used at a later date to reconstruct a project,” said McKinney.

One concept is to take the saved pieces and create a three dimensional, interactive piece, possibly against the side of a building with a painted or large scale photo background.

The bridge is considered to be both historic and a tourism draw because it was prominently featured in the Hollywood movie First Blood, which launched the Rambo series.

McKinney and his small committee, has identified four large timbers on the bridge that are pressure treated, not creosote treated, and could be saved.

“These pieces, along with some original guard railing and tin facia strips shown in the movie, that still exists today, could be used.”

The pieces would be stored in Hope’s public works, until funds were raised to create the tourism project.

McKinney also wants to save an additional portion of the bridge, a smaller log on the upper span approach that was clearly seen in the movie.

“Our goal is to video document us removing an original piece of the bridge, putting it in a glass enclosed case, and flying it down to Los Angeles and presenting it to a Sylvester Stallone representative.”

Council offered its support to the idea, saying it was possible to have the pieces set aside and stored during the dismantling. However, no funds were offered to help make the project a reality.

“The biggest problem is that no one has come forward with a business plan, or a source of revenue,” said Hope Mayor Laurie French.

“I’ve always envisioned a piece of the bridge, or a replica, on display with wood carvings of Rambo and the sheriff … but we have no money dedicated to that in a very tight budget,” said the mayor.

That hasn’t deterred McKinney. Once the pieces have been saved and stored, there’s plenty of opportunity to raise funds.

“We aren’t going to worry about that right now,” he said.

He and his band of volunteers are busy preparing for a special salute to the bridge.

On July 10, a three hour event called Rambo Bridge – The Final Take, is set to take place, Starting at 11 a.m. at the old bridge site, it will feature movie props, a Rambo look-a-like contest, community barbecue hosted by Hope Search and Rescue, commemorative T-shirts and more.

The event is not a fundraiser, just an opportunity for movie fans to take one final opportunity to relive the First Blood experience.