About the Book

Final product: Hard cover, 240 pages printed full-color on 100# paper and smythe sewn with reinforced binding—in other words, a book built to last as long as a steel bridge.

Our October 2013 Indiegogo campaign pitch video, used to raise over $9,000 toward publishing costs.

The Big & Awesome Team

The book was a group effort by a community of hardworking people.

Sharon Wood Wortman, aka "The Bridge Lady"

Writer/Project Leader

Sharon Wood Wortman has been exploring Portland and Vancouver's bridges since she turned 39, what Carl Jung called "the average age of enlightenment." Several thousand third graders, OMSI students, and adults walked with her during her 20-year bridge-walking career, which included taking the public to the operator tower and bascule pit of the Morrison Bridge. 


She retired from leading bridge walks in 2010 to volunteer to produce The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver—A Book for Young Readers and Their Teachers, written with Ed Wortman and published in December 2014 in cooperation with Portland Public Schools. More than 4,000 books have since been distributed free to local classrooms.


Sharon now focuses on visiting classrooms to help boys and girls and their teachers to build and load test model truss bridges as a way to develop the next generation's grasp of engineering principles.

Ed Wortman

Co-Writer/Engineering and Technical Advisor

The co-author of The Portland Bridge Book (third ed., 2006), Ed moved to Portland in 1971 to work on the construction of the Fremont Bridge, the longest tied arch bridge in the world at the time. He later joined Multnomah County’s Bridge Section as Engineering Services Administrator. He was a major contributor and leader during several of the county’s Willamette River bridge projects, including the 1999 $22.7 million rehabilitation of the Hawthorne Bridge, the seismic evaluation of the county’s bridges, and a series of mechanical and structural renovations to the Broadway Bridge valued at more than $30 million. He is now helping the County with construction of the new Sellwood Bridge. Ed was named Civil Engineer of the Year in 2004 by the American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon section. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree in civil engineering/structures from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Harvard University.

Edith Fuller


Edith’s professional careers began in California teaching junior high school math, then continued as librarian at UC Berkeley and UCLA libraries. Later, in Oregon, she became a teacher librarian, working first at MLC and then as district librarian and system administrator for library automation for Portland Public Schools. Her interests include languages (in recent retirement, completing third year Danish at PSU), reading, gardening, and playing with paper, i.e., making movable books, creating special greeting cards, designing creative snowflake/stars for the winter season, and also presenting workshops on pop-ups, stars/snowflakes, small booklets, etc. to school library staff at Oregon Association of School Libraries conferences.

Nancy Chapin

President of the Board of Directors, PDX Bridge Festival, Inc.

A 501 (c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, PDX Bridge Festival’s mission is to raise public awareness and foster appreciation of Portland’s Willamette River Bridges through educational, historical, cultural and artistic programming. Our team consists of artists, event planners, local government, leading businesses, media partners, and Portland’s top audio/visual houses, and draws on wide creative talents to produce awe-inspiring public arts celebrations with longevity and magnetism.

Lisa Van Clock

Content Advisor

A third grade teacher at DA Grout Elementary School in Portland, Lisa enjoys the challenges of making curriculum material accessible to ALL of the students in her room.

Corey Castelow

Design Technology Curricumlum Advisor

Corey Castelow, a graduate of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Granby High School (Virginia), was a second year environmental engineering major at PSU while editing the design technology (Bridge in a Box) curriculum included in Big & Awesome, and acting as the outreach coordinator for SWE members being trained to go into elementary classrooms to help teachers and students in the Portland-Vancouver area build and load test wooden model truss bridges. She is now an Engineer I at Brown and Caldwell.

Nicole Zimmerman

Design Technology Curricumlum Advisor

Nicole Zimmerman was vice president of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, President of the Portland State University student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and a third year student in the Civil and Engineering Department at PSU at the time of the book's publishing. She is now a Power Distribution Engineer at Intel Corporation.

Cece Cutsforth

Graphic Design Team

Cece connected the authors with graduating students in the Graphic Design program at Portland Community College and facilitated the direction of the book's design.

Madeline DeCotes

Graphic Design Team, Web Design

Madeline worked as part of the design team. Among other things, she illustrated The Bridge Lady and made this website.

Brandon Hafer

Graphic Design Team

Brandon worked as part of the design team. Among other things, he made awesome bridge graphics and illustrated animals.

Shallin Mayher

Graphic Design Team

Shallin worked as part of the design team. Among other things, she made bridge infographics and the layout of the Bridge Building and Load Testing unit.

Yuko Ohnuma-Oyler

Graphic Design Team

Yuko worked as part of the design team. Among other things, she created the adorable clouds and seagulls and hand-drawn font.

Dean Williams

Graphic Design Team

Dean worked as part of the design. Among other things, he revised 1,001 last-minute changes to the book's printable file.

John Laursen

Production Manager

The recipient of the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award, given to a person or organization whose contributions have enriched Oregon’s literary community. Laursen is a writer, designer, printer and publisher who is the owner of Press-22, which publishes finely designed books and does text-based public art projects. Laursen has worked on the Oregon Holocaust Memorial, the Walk of the Heroines at Portland State, and memorials for John Reed and Hazel Hall. He is the co-author, with Terry Toedtemeier, of Wild Beauty: Photographs of the Columbia Gorge 1867-1957.

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Big & Awesome would not be possible without the generous donations from the following individuals and organizations.
Bedrock $4,000 and Above
  • Edith and Will Fuller

Arch $2,500 – $3,999
Truss $1,000 – $2,499
  • Columbia Bridge and Geer

  • Epsilon Engineering (Mark Van Duser)

  • Lee & Dolores Golden

  • Hamilton Construction

  • Hardesty & Hanover

  • Hayhurst School PTA*

  • KPFF Consulting

  • Morel Ink*

  • North American National Cartographic Information Society*

  • Portland Ironworkers Local #29

  • THA Architecture

  • T.Y. Lin International

  • Vigor Industrial

  • WH Lochner

  • Wildish


Girder $250 – $999
  • American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon Section

  • American Society of Civil Engineers Oregon Section Younger Member Forum*

  • BergerABAM, Inc.

  • Charles Birnstiel, P.E.

  • Bittner-Shen Consulting Engineers

  • CH2M Hill

  • Coral Sales

  • Fought & Company

  • Dorothy Gage

  • Geographical Information Society*

  • JLA Public Involvement

  • The Marylhurst School*

  • Mayer-Reed

  • Kelly & Aaron McNutt

  • Nutter Family Foundation

  • Parametrix

  • Portland Area Teachers-Retired*

  • Portland General Electric

  • Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon (PLSO)

  • James Ruddell, P.E.

  • Slayden-Sundt

  • Society of American Military Engineers Portland Post

  • Thompson Metal Fab

  • Don Wagner, P.E.

  • Willamette Jetboat Excursions


Rivet $25 – $249
  • American Society of Civil Engineers Southwest Washington Section

  • Avamere at Sandy*

  • Beverly Cleary Elementary School*

  • Sylvia Bogart for Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc.*

  • Hearts and Clubs Open*

  • Northwest Aero Pix

  • Pacific Northwest Chapter Northwest Railway Society*

  • Parsons Brinckerhoff Engineering

  • St. Anthony School*

  • Scottish Rite of Oregon*

  • Sea Reach, Ltd.

  • Stacy & Witbeck

  • Structural Engineers Association of Oregon*

  • Third Rail Repertory Theatre*

  • Time Out Comedy*


Rivet Individuals $25 and above
  • Anonymous

  • Douglas Auburg

  • Mike Baker Family, Mike, P.E., Cathy, Amanda, and Sarah

  • Mike Bair*

  • Mark Bodyfelt

  • Diane Carver

  • Sybilla Cook

  • Nancy and Jon Decherd

  • Noreen Drake

  • Julie Greb, P.E.

  • Eddie Herzig Family*

  • Cecelia Huntington

  • Katherin Kirkpatrick

  • Shirley Kishiyama

  • J. Jay Kushner, P.E.

  • Melissa Madenski*

  • Anne McLaughlin

  • Hattie Mead

  • Cabe Nicksic

  • Lola Pike

  • Steven and Joann Price

  • Susan Quanbeck*

  • Halle Sadle and Family

  • Tom Scanlon, Christine Colasurdo, Luke Scanlon*

  • Arlen & Rita Sheldrake*

  • Tom Szymoniak, P.E.

  • Edward Taub

  • Terri Theisen

  • Shelley Varner

  • Dawn and Charlie White

  • James Wood, P.E.

  • Jan and J. Rae Zweerts


*In-kind service provided for the donation.

Special Thanks to our Indiegogo campaign donors! 

With your generous contributions we were able to raise $4,551 during the campaign and another $4,588 after its end date, for a total of $9,139!

Extra special thanks to our $1,000 donors:

  • Mark Van Duser (Epsilon Engineering; Beaverton, OR)

  • Lee & Dolores Golden (Vancouver, WA)



  • Tiffany Adams

  • Douglas Auburg

  • Deborah Bloom

  • Patrick C. Clancy

  • Robert Clerihew

  • Betty Dowell

  • Catherine Dummer

  • Brian Eustis

  • Susan Fell

  • Amanda Fritz

  • Stan & Shirley Ghezzi

  • Kathryn Hafer

  • Krystina Johnson

  • Roxanne Karr

  • Janet Klinke

  • Jeanette Kloos

  • Tony & Christy Lester

  • Nikole McGuinness

  • Pete & Joanie Melrose

  • Kelly & Aaron McNutt

  • Trisha Parshall

  • Tova Peltz

  • Shelley Sanders

  • Eric Schwarz

  • Gwyeth Smith, Jr.

  • Christina Stratis

  • Kathy Sugnet

  • Tonia Twigged

  • Charlie & Dawn White

  • Gary Wright

  • Nancy Varekamp

  • Stephen Young & Jane Fellows



  • Stephen Backer

  • Rebecca Burrow

  • Emily Carlson

  • Donald Colburn

  • Brook Collison

  • Drew Danhorn

  • Madeline DeCotes

  • Frank Engel

  • Dolores S. Fell

  • Richard & Jane Groff

  • Ann C. Hargraves

  • Amy Herrera

  • Bob Johannsen

  • Sharon Keast

  • Janine Bertram Kemp

  • Shirley Kishiyama & Edward Taub

  • Alex Lockard

  • Keith Massie

  • Margaret & Chuck Maggio

  • Linda Prinsen

  • Allen Renz for Francesca Gebhardt

  • Dianne Rodway & John Becker

  • Meead Saberi

  • Darrell Schuh

  • Amy Schutzer

  • Carol Shokey

  • Judith Tannenbaum

  • Jason Tell

  • Yumei Wang

  • Todd Wilson

The Big & Awesome Facts Sheet


* Published by PDX Bridge Festival, Inc. and Urban Adventure Press, in cooperation with Portland Public Schools, in a limited edition press run completed in early November 2014


* The result of a community fundraising effort — more than $100,000 donated by individuals, businesses, and organizations to help pay for design, printing, and binding expenses


* Printed at Bridgetown Printing, Portland and bound at Roswell Bindery, Phoenix


* Hardcover, 240 pages, full-color, #100 pound paper (45 kg), specially reinforced spine (built to last as long as a steel bridge), total weight: three pounds (1 kg)


* Created for and to better connect the third and fourth grade students in Portland and Vancouver and to provide a missing curriculum gap — bridges have been taught as part of Portland Public Schools third grade social studies curriculum since at least the 1950s, but until now there has never been a book for this age group, their teachers, and parents


* Almost 5,000 books to be distributed in late December 2014 to Portland Public Schools, Vancouver School District, Beaverton School District, Multnomah County Library System, Vancouver Regional Library District, and other schools and libraries


* A regional resource featuring 22 big river railway and roadway bridges between Vancouver and Oregon City, with a 19-page bridge building and load-testing unit, the poems and artwork of students and adults, and interviews with engineers, ironworkers, bridge operators, and others

* More than 150 artists and organizations, including students of the Sabin/ACCESS Art Project, contributed drawings, essays, music, photos, poetry, and graphics


* Graphic design by five students of Portland Community College’s Graphic Design Department under the direction of the chair of the department and the book’s production manager


* Built mostly by volunteers, including the authors—a bridge engineer and a historian and authors of three editions of The Portland Bridge Book—who worked with an editor, production manager, several teachers, and a large team of math, language, and technical experts