Tag Archives: infrastructure

exploration quikie: Salt creek bridge

One of the usually submerged historic highway bridges in Shasta Lake

The Salt Creek Bridge was built on the Pacific Highway in 1925 between what is now Lakehead and Redding. This bridge apparently replaced one built some years earlier, as the older abutments are visible underneath the newer structure. It was later abandoned in 1941, as US Route 99 (the former Pacific Highway) was rerouted in anticipation of Shasta Lake inundating the older route (as happened in 1948).

In dryer or drought years, the Salt Creek Bridge is one of the first submerged artifacts to make its appearance as the lake level falls. It is easily accessible from the Salt Creek exit on Interstate 5. Take Lower Salt Creek Road west for about 3 miles at which point you will come to the bridge underneath the towering Union Pacific railroad trestle.

My visit to the site got a little more interesting, as I ran into a gentleman making casts of footprints in the muddy bank of creek upstream of the bridge. He believed them to be evidence of Bigfoot-like creatures. I have to say the footprint and casting of others he had made in the area didn’t look quite human. He proceeded to show me dozens of pictures of like footprints he had found at numerous sites, as well as other weird things that apparently Bigfoot hunters believe are evidence of the mythical creature actually existing. I came away from the conversation thinking I might have to make my forays into the area forests with a new viewpoint.

The Salt Creek Bridge underneath the towering Union Pacific railroad trestle. This is looking south, as the Salt Creek Bridge is oriented east-to-west.
The south side of the bridge.
Looking west down the old highway grade. The shadow is from the trestle above.
Looking east.
Another south side view.
Date stamp on the Salt Creek Bridge.
Another south side view looking east. Notice the flared ends of the railing.
Flared railing at the ends.
Footing from a previous bridge on this spot, probably built when the US 99 predecessor Pacific Highway was built. The previous bridge would have probably been only 15 feet wide.
The underside looking towards the east end. The previous bridge footing can be seen in the center.
Since the 1925 bridge was higher than its predecessor, the road approachmentds had to raised. This is the reinforcement of the east approach.
Evidence of Bigfoot?

All in all, the bridge is in great condition. This is likely due to being submerged in the cold waters of Shasta Lake most of the year. If you decide to drive across the span, beware of the approaches, as there are gaps between the bridge and the road.

Heading west along US 99 through the settlement of Salt Creek before the site was inundated by Shasta Lake. Some structures were move elsewhere before inundation.
Eastman, Jervie Henry. (1941). “Salt Creek Bridge” on Highway 99 near Redding, Calif. Retrieved April 2, 2021, from https://digital.ucdavis.edu/collection/eastman/D-051/B-1/B-1367

The Salt Creek Bridge on bridgehunter.com

CONTENT UPDATES

Recent new and updated content to the site in the past week or so:

EXPLORATION QUICKIE: abandoned southern pacific winters branch

Driving home from the Bay Area up Interstate 505 (the “Winters Cut-off), I jumped off the highway at the Midway Road exit just north of the Nut Tree Airport to look for remnants of the Southern Pacific Clear Lake/ Winters Branch along the modern interstate.

I vaguely remember seeing rail cars along the interstate’s predecessor 2 lane highway as our family travelled back and forth between the Bay Area and Siskiyou County in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I rediscovered the railroad branch while looking at old topographic maps of the area recently.

USGS 1953 Allendale, CA topographic map, photorevised 1973

The above topo map shows the railroad running between Hartley Road and the under construction Interstate 505. I explored the stretch between the two arrows, heading north from Midway Road to Allendale Road.

Google Maps of the same area
Looking south across Midway Road, from the northeastern corner of Midway Road and Hartley Road.

Starting from Midway and Hartley Roads, the railbed would have come through the middle of the warehouse shown in the above picture. (7 January 2021 update: It should be noted that a brand new warehouse has been constructed on the land in the above photo)

Looking north from the northeast corner of Midway and Hartley Roads at the path of the railbed.

Also at this corner is found a USGS benchmark with its associated witness post, monumented in 1904 (Solano County B 44, PID JS1521).

Along this stretch of the abandoned railbed, a number of small drainages are crossed. Below is one the the concrete culverts used to cross these.

Looking east from Hartley Road. Interstate 505 is in the background.
Top view, looking north.
East side of culvert.

At Hartley and Allendale Roads, we look back south in the next photo, the the raised railbed to the left in the image.

My quick exploration ends at Allendale Road. The next stretch of railbed is now private property across the road.

The railbed heads north towards Winters through the center of the photo.

REFERENCES

Vaca Valley and Clear Lake Railroad – Wikipedia

Historic Highways: Old US 99, Weed, CA

I spent an hour or so this afternoon exploring a small section of Edgewood Road going north out of Weed. This used to be US Route 99, before Interstate 5 was built and replaced Highway 99.  I concentrated my efforts on one curved section of the road, examining old wooden guard rails, and looking for “C-blocks”, which are old California Division of Highways survey monuments. I did not find any, but I’ll return and spend a little more time in the brush looking for any that might exist.

The general location of my efforts was 41.43049, -122.39933

1954 USGS 15 minute topographic map showing the US 99 alignment.

2010 USGS 7.5 minute topographic map showing the US 99 alignment next to Interstate 5.

Heading north into the curve. Broken wood guard rail is on the right.

Reflector bracket.

Railroad property line markers delineate the old highway right of way on east side. These should assist in locating any “C-blocks”.

The rail is actually comprised of three pieces of layered lumber.

Bolt head.

Retaining nut.

Guard rail at the north end of the curve (looking south).

Dog Creek Bridge

An accessible, historic, and photogenic bridge worth exploring

Trip dates: November 24 & 25, 2017

The Harlan D Miller Memorial Bridge, known also as the Dog Creek Bridge, is an abandoned concrete arch bridge completed in 1927 as part of US Route 99 just north of Lakehead, Shasta County, California. After Route 99 was replaced by Interstate 5, it carried traffic as part of Interstate 5 until a bridge to the northwest was expanded to accommodate both directions of traffic in 1974. It was abandoned and slated for demolition, until saved due to efforts of concerned citizens, and is now managed by the US Forest Service.

According to Bridgehunter.com,

Harlan D Miller (1880-1926) was the State Bridge Engineer for the California Highway Department from 1923 until his untimely death in 1926. During his short tenure as State Bridge Engineer he made radical changes to the way California designed bridges. These changes included requiring all highway bridges in the state be designed by the state and designing bridges that matched the geometry of the roadway. The latter often complicated design fork but the final result (skewed or curved bridges) justified the efforts in drivability.

Miller’s most visible effect on California bridges was the consideration given to design aesthetics. His designs were recognized in their own periods as possessing beauty and boldness. Many fine details can be seen on Miller designed bridges including rail and end post details, as well as clean lines and details of the superstructure design.

When my family relocated to the Bar Area in 1963, I remember driving across this bridge as we traveled to the Mount Shasta region to visit relatives several times per year. After the bridge was decommissioned, it had always been my desire to explore the now abandoned structure. I finally had a chance to do so this past week.

Looking west at the span. Photo taken from bridge that crosses the Sacramento River. A short railroad bridge is visible to the left which also spans Dog Creek.

Looking south down the bridge deck.

Looking south along the west side of the bridge. Notice the blue tiles in the deck wall pillars.

Curb details.

The view south looking down the Sacramento River.

Looking north up the Sacramento River.

At several places benched areas were provided for travelers to stop, enjoy the views, and rest a bit.

Stone retaining on the northern approach to the span.

Dog Creek.

Looking north. The Interstate 5 span can be seen near the center.

DIRECTIONS & ACCESS

Off Interstate 5, take the Vollmers/Delta exit. Proceed west about a quarter mile and turning left onto Fenders Ferry Road. Drive down along the Dog Creek watershed for about a mile, crossing the creek twice and underneath the I5 span until reaching the historic bridge. Park just before the railroad tracks, and climb up the east side of northern end of the bridge.

According to a couple of other websites, there is supposedly access at the northern end of the bridge from the top, at end of a private road where a Forest Service begins. I checked it out and I’m not comfortable at this time on recommending its use. The adjoining property owners have posted a lot of onerous signage, and have tried to unsuccessfully block the easement. I would be nervous parking my vehicle here. Check this post for updates, as I will attempt to get clarification from the Forest Service regarding use of this easement.

FURTHER READING

redding.com (Redding Searchlight newspaper website) article Travelin’ in Time: Dog Creek Bridge, a work of art, was almost demolished,  posted June 26, 2008

CalTrans Digital Collections, Historic Bridges and Tunnels: Dog Creek