For Immediate Release: 11/5/2021
Historic Bridgeport Covered Bridge at South Yuba River State Park Reopens to the Public After Extensive Rehabilitation
Adeline Yee, Information Officer
Art Contest Winners from Local Schools Honored with First Bridge Walk
PENN VALLEY, Calif.— California State Parks has officially reopened the historic Bridgeport Covered Bridge at South Yuba River State Park to the public following a celebration on Thursday, November 4. The bridge has been closed since 2011 for repairs after a timber survey revealed significant structural damage from previous flooding. After a $6.9 million rehabilitation, visitors can now take a step back in time as they walk across the bridge, reliving the mining-era days of travel along the turnpike.
“California State Parks is thankful for the outpouring of support from the public, elected officials and especially the community leadership of the Save Our Bridge Campaign Committee,” said State Parks Director Armando Quintero. Speaking at the reopening ceremony, Quintero said, “time itself is a bridge” and touched upon how time gives us perspective and lets us view our history with more wisdom than when we live through it.
Constructed in 1862 by the Virginia Turnpike Company, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge in western Nevada County is the only remaining single-span Howe Truss, Burr Arch covered timber bridge of this size in the nation. Spanning 225 feet long and 16 feet wide, the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Structures and is California Historical Landmark 390.
Thursday’s reopening remarks included Nevada City Nisenan Rancheria’s Tribal Spokesperson Shelly Covert’s moving song in the native Nisenan language, Nevada County Supervisor Susan Hoek speaking about her childhood memories of cattle drives in the area and supporting words from State Senators Jim Nielsen (R-CA 4th District) and Brian Dahle (R- CA 1st District). Save Our Bridge Campaign Committee Chairs Doug and Shirley Moon received several rounds of applause for their hard work and dedication to rouse the community’s support to fundraise and rebuild the historic bridge.
The culmination of the reopening celebration event was the inaugural “first walk” across the bridge by students (K-12) from Nevada County schools. In early 2020, the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools hosted an art contest for all students. As part of the grand prizes for winning art entries, the students were the first to cross the newly restored bridge.
After construction in 1862, it wasn’t until the summer of 1947 when the bridge was first recognized as a historic landmark. Twenty-two years later, the Nevada County Historical Society began efforts to preserve the bridge, and within two years it was closed to vehicle traffic, placed on the national register, and the first major restorative work took place. After extreme flooding in 1997 matched 1862 levels and caused damage to the bridge, further repairs were made. In 2011, the bridge closed to pedestrian traffic, and within two years, the Save Our Bridge Campaign (SOB) Committee formed with the goal of re-opening this historic bridge.
Supported by State Parks, Sierra Gold Parks Foundation, Nevada County, South Yuba River Citizens’ League, and the Nevada County Regional Chamber of Commerce, private citizens and elected officials, SOB gained the attention, support and eventual $6.9 million in funding to make this goal a reality. Rehabilitation spanned mid-2019 through the fall of 2021 by Spectra Company.
To learn more on the rehabilitation of the historic bridge, visit www.parks.ca.gov/BridgeportCoveredBridge.
Students (K-12) from Nevada County who won the art contest “Flowing through History – the Bridgeport Restoration Project” were one of the first ones to walk across the restored bridge with State Parks Director Armando Quintero on Nov. 4, 2021. Photos from California State Parks.
Top left: The Bridgeport Covered Bridge now fully restored. Top right: A historic shot of the bridge from the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges. Bottom left: Director Quintero thanking Save Our Bridge Campaign Committee Chairs Shirley and Doug Moon. Bottom right: Attendees at the bridge reopening celebration on Nov. 4, 2021. Photos from California State Parks.
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