Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
Sign in to follow this  
Keep the Show on the Road!

Us99 Four Bridge Crossings - 1915 Rediscovered

Recommended Posts

One of the highlights I “discovered” along old US 99 was the wealth of old alignments and bridges that still exist. For a route I have driven at least 100 times (on the interstate) in the past 40 years, it only proves you can teach an old roadie new tricks

 

I posted earlier the Pioneer Bridge including photos 1914 alignment in the canyon below. I later drove it, and will post a photo of that old alignment from “ground level.” But first I want to share another little gem. I call it “Four Bridge Crossings.”

 

I must cite the terrific little book, “That Ribbon of Highway I,” by Jill Livingston. I have enjoyed her book for several years, since it was first published in 1996. It has gone through four printings and two editions, which suggests that there is an interest in US99!

 

Livingstone cites “The Three Bridges of Gibson,” counting I suppose the I-5 bridge, the 1928 (US99) bridge, and the 1915 (Pacific Highway) bridge. I, just for the fun of it, add the railroad bridge, and proudly proclaim “Four Bridge Crossings”…… and I will also add “Vintage Guard Rail.”

 

The Google Earth capture below shows the relationship of the (1) 1915 bridge, (2) 1928 bridge, (3) undated and hidden railway bridge, and the (4) I-5 bridge. The pattern of 1914-1915 sites and 1928 – 31 sites along this route no doubt correspond to two major auto road development periods prior to the interstate. (If course in this area you also have the 1860-61 wagon road, the development of which is wonderfully detailed in Robert David Stone’s “Road Builders in the Sacramento Canyon,” The Covered Wagon 1993, Shasta Historical Society.)

 

ARGibson2.jpg

 

 

 

The Quicktime 360 degree panorama HERE should load fairly quickly (2 Mb) and will show the 1915 bridge with its added fence (yuck!), the 1928 bridge, and of course the I-5 bridge. The bridges are shown below as well, including the railroad bridge across the creek…….4 Bridge Crossings in all.

 

The railroad bridge taken from the 1928 bridge (looking south) appears tiny compared to the massive I-5 bridge.

 

ARRailBridge.jpg

 

 

 

The 1915 bridge is plain and simple. It is fairly rare to find a concrete bridge built as early as 1915 specifically for auto traffic (not built earlier for wagon travel), and even more rare to have it still open to an automobile.

 

AR1915Bridge.jpg

 

AR1915.jpg

 

 

 

The photo below is taken from the deck of the 1915 bridge looking south at the 1928 bridge and the interstate. Wow, what a contrast!!!

 

AR1928Bridge.jpg

 

 

 

For alignment folks, I was standing at the east end of the 1915 bridge and did a panorama of about 130 degrees looking westward along the oldest alignment. I have no idea when the ugly fence was added, but I suppose it was done for walkers’ safety. It would not stop a car. Incidentally, it appeared easy to drive a car across the bridge.

 

AR1915BridgePano.jpg

 

 

 

After I enjoyed the 4 bridges, I started back toward the interstate, and quickly noticed a rare “prize,”…... a vintage guard rail, almost entirely intact. Denny may recall the reproduction guard rails along the Columbia River Highway. That highway dates to about 1916, and these guard rails appear very much the same….but original. There is no way I know of to accurately date guard rails, but the “technology” of a period was widely disseminated via publications such as Good Roads and Public Roads, and various handbooks which described recommended designs for contractors and road engineers. Does anyone want to take a guess at a date for these guard rails?

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

 

ARGuard1.jpg

 

ARGuard2.jpg

 

ARGuard3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a contrast in bridge design I have a picture on www.freewebs.com/yankeetraveller (click on 1923 alignments an scroll down to the bridge picture just after the Old Memphis Road and stop sign) of a bridge in the Brighton, TN, area on a 1923 U S 51 alignment. This bridge has no guard rails - and if you think maybe the highway department hasn't gotten around to putting guard rails, there's another a little further on that's the same way.

 

I don't suppose there is much traffic thru there now; mostly local. Neat thing about this alignment, thothere isn't a thing out there but nice scenery is that this bridge is on a circa 1920's alignment - to get to it you have to come off the current 51 highway, to an alignment that replaced the 1920's road. So you have 3 different alignments here.

 

Also of interest is the railroad underpass a few photo's before the bridge picture.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

Edited by Alex Burr - hester_nec

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For a contrast in bridge design I have a picture on www.freewebs.com/yankeetraveller (click on 1923 alignments an scroll down to the bridge picture just after the Old Memphis Road and stop sign) of a bridge in the Brighton, TN, area on a 1923 U S 51 alignment. This bridge has no guard rails - and if you think maybe the highway department hasn't gotten around to putting guard rails, there's another a little further on that's the same way.

 

I don't suppose there is much traffic thru there now; mostly local. Neat thing about this alignment, thothere isn't a thing out there but nice scenery is that this bridge is on a circa 1920's alignment - to get to it you have to come off the current 51 highway, to an alignment that replaced the 1920's road. So you have 3 different alignments here.

 

Also of interest is the railroad underpass a few photo's before the bridge picture.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

 

Alex,

 

Thanks for the comeback. I recall that bridge when you posted that trip, but what I noticed was the deck strips. (You might add for others that they need to look under Memphis Short Trips on your site).

 

The fact that there are three 1915 bridges of similar design on US99 still around according to Livingstone, obviously suggests that they were built at the same time and several streams were bridged. I wondered if the rail-less design represented economy or standard design practice at the time. Clearly the later 1928 bridge on the same site had rails.

 

I’m no expert, so that is as far as it goes.

 

Thanks again for the info!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex,

 

Thanks for the comeback. I recall that bridge when you posted that trip, but what I noticed was the deck strips. (You might add for others that they need to look under Memphis Short Trips on your site).

 

Thanks again for the info!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

 

I did post the web site - it just didn't act like a link.

 

"For a contrast in bridge design I have a picture on www.freewebs.com/yankeetraveller (click on 1923 alignments an scroll down to the bridge picture just after the Old Memphis Road and stop sign) of a bridge in the Brighton, TN, area on a 1923 U S 51 alignment." :D

 

 

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can add a fifth "bridge" to that list. The culvert behin the 1915 bridge is from the 1950's. The grade above is the US 99 expressway alignment, finally bypassed in the 1990's by current I-5.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×