Nevada County, California
|Courtesy Flickr/Jeff C
"Dropping to the South Fork of the Yuba River on the old route from the mines of French Corral and San Juan Ridge to Marysville, the traveler comes unexpectedly upon one of the most remarkable of covered bridges..."
- S. Griswold Morley, The Covered Bridges of California, 1938
A product of the Northern California Gold Rush, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge is believed to be the longest, single-span, wooden covered bridge in the United States. Crossing the south fork of the Yuba River at a span of 233 feet, the bridge was built by the Virginia City Turnpike Company as part of a 14-mile toll road authorized by the California state legislature. The toll road was an essential link connecting Virginia City, Nevada, and the silver-producing Comstock Lode with the centers of California commerce.
The Bridgeport Covered Bridge is unique in its design, a combination of truss and arch design apparently taken from a plan by bridge-designer Theodore Burr for a span across the Hudson River. One of only ten covered bridges remaining in California, the bridge is sheathed in more than 27,000 sugar-pine shingles. The laminated arches, anchored by massive granite blocks and built of Douglas Fir cut by the Virginia City Turnpike Company, are visible from both inside and outside the bridge.
1. In 1862, the price for crossing the Virginia City Turnpike Company's 14-mile section of roadway, including passage over the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, was $.25 for foot travelers, $.50 for horsemen, and $6 -- the maximum toll -- for a team of eight animals.
2. A National Historic Landmark, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge was acquired by the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 1986. It subsequently has become the centerpiece of the South Yuba River State Park, which allows pedestrians the opportunity to explore the bridge at leisure as well as swim below in the chilly waters of the Yuba River.
1. Elliott H. Koeppel, The California Gold Country: Highway 49 Revisited; Malacoff & Co., ISBN 093812112X
2. Jeanne Baker, An Undercover Story: The Covered Bridges of California; Chapel Hill Press, 2000, ISBN 18880849232
3. S. Griswold Morley, The Covered Bridges of California; Reprint Services Corporation, 1992, ISBN 0781250668