"The beautiful and substantial structure is one which does full credit to the bridge company and the contractor Capt. Jas. A. Murray."
- Letter to Editor that appeared in the North Californian, January 9, 1856
Soon after gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento in 1848, General John Bidwell found gold near the Middle Fork of the Feather River. His discovery brought hordes of miners to the scene and Bidwell Bar was born. The Bidwell Bar Suspension Bridge over the Feather River was one of several suspension bridges built in the region in the 1850s, and is the only one that remains.
Wire ropes had been developed only within the decade before construction. Pioneer engineers brought these advances to California and designed, ordered the material, and constructed the bridge in the remote frontier. Almost all the material used to build the bridge was brought "around the horn" (i.e. fabricated on the East Coast and shipped around Cape Horn to California).