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Long lost footage of Galloping Gertie collapse focus of new documentary debuting at Gig Harbor Film festival

"The Lost Angle" began with a vintage collector's surprising find at an estate sale #k5evening

TACOMA, Wash. — There had been plenty of warning before November 7, 1940, so cameras were ready when Galloping Gertie, the four-month-old suspension bridge linking Tacoma to the Kitsap Peninsula, plunged into the water below, making it one of the best documented bridge collapses in history.

Then about 5 years ago vintage shopper Spencer Ries spotted a reel of black and white home movie footage at an estate sale.

"I remember holding it up," Ries said. "and I could see what looks like a bridge. So I thought 'Oh I wonder if it's the Narrows Bridge?' I pulled out one of my projectors finally and ran it through and that's when I realized Oh wow! This is the footage of the bridge collapsing.'"

"The collapse is in every textbook on engineering that's ever been written," said Grit City Magazine editor Sierra Hartman who wrote an article about the discovery. He says from a wider angle, the footage begins rolling earlier than others, with the bridge rippling like a whip.

"The bridge is like a mile long," he said. "Part of it collapses and you see a section rise up in the air like 50 to 60 feet."

 The sound of snapping cables could be heard over the 40 mile per hour winds

"Witnesses there said it sounded like machine gun fire," Hartman said. 

Ries's footage is now part of  The Lost Angle, a documentary Grit City Magazine made with The Meraki Agency  that makes its debut Thursday at the Gig Harbor Film Festival.

And it's all thanks to a discovery Ries made in the closing hours of an estate sale. 

"It tells something that the old footage didn't tell," Hartman said.

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