Up the Lazy River

In a desperate attempt to keep my mind off the approaching apocalypse, i mounted another bridge expedition, this time to photograph all the bridges over the Sacramento River.

Starting at the mouth of the river, the first bridge is in Rio Vista on CA-12, the 1960 Helen Madere Memorial Bridge, a vertical-lift drawbridge, and it’s a beauty.  Here it is from the bank of the river at the west end.

Helen Madere Memorial Bridge


And a closeup of the towers.

Helen Madere Memorial Bridge


And now, crossing the bridge, a shot from the east bank of the river.

Helen Madere Memorial Bridge



Helen Madere Memorial Bridge


Now we head north on CA-160 to Isleton, where we cross the 1923 Isleton Bridge, an unmodified example of the Strauss heel trunnion bascule bridge with the bascule portion freshly painted bright yellow.



Isleton Bridge


The bascules alone.

Isleton Bridge


A closeup of the mechanism.

Isleton Bridge


Finally, across the bridge for a full shot from the other side.

Isleton Bridge



On north on CA-160 to Walnut Grove for the 1951 Walnut Grove Bridge, also one of Strauss’ heel trunion bascule bridges.  Strauss got a major share of the drawbridge market for many years with this design.  They were ugly but cheaper than the alternatives and superbly functional.  He dotted the country with dozens of them, and many of them are still hard at work with little repair after nearly a century.

Walnut Grove Bridge


A closeup.

Walnut Grove Bridge


And here’s the humongous counterweight.

Walnut Grove Bridge


The next bridge north on CA-160 over the Sacramento is at Paintersville, but a couple of miles before i got to it, i crossed this beauty.

Steamboat Slough Bridge


Turns out it’s the Steamboat Slough Bridge over, yes, Steamboat Slough just as it pours into the Sacramento River.  It’s from 1924 and is yet another of Strauss’ heel trunnion bascule bridges still in great working order after being refurbished in 1950.  Here’s a shot from the end.

Steamboat Slough Bridge


And a counterweight shot.  Owing to all the trees along the levee, i couldn’t get a landscape mode shot.

Steamboat Slough Bridge


Now up CA-160 another mile to the Paintersville Bridge from 1923, another of Strauss’ work.  It was rehabilitated in 1952 and tuned up in 2000.

Paintersville Bridge


An end shot.  And yes, it’s another Strauss heel trunnion bascule bridge.  They just keep on flapping their bascules.

Paintersville Bridge


And finally, zooming in on the counterweight.



A few more miles north on CA-160 we find the 1929 Freeport Bridge. yet another Strauss workhorse and, like the others here at the bottom end of the river, the bascule portion is virtually unmodified although it didn’t get the yellow paint job.

Freeport Bridge


This one was a bit harder to photograph, but here’s a closeup.

Freeport Bridge


The next bridge north is in Sacramento, the Pioneer Memorial Bridge on I-80.  Ain’t hardly nothing written about this bridge, so about all i could find was its name and that it was built in 1966.

I drove around quite a bit at the western end of this bridge trying to find a vantage from which to photograph it.  Here’s all i could get before i realized that what i really needed more than a shot of this bridge was a bathroom.

Pioneer Memorial Bridge


And my selected bathroom was in an Indian restaurant, where, screw the buffet, i got them to make me some saag paneer with a piece of naan.  Since they did it from scratch, it took quite some time while i studied maps trying to figure out how to get to a vantage for the bridge.

Finally, they brought it out, and it was delicious, but when i returned to my car i realized that the sun was about to set.

So that’s it for this excursion.  Next week i’ll go back to the above bridge and then take my search for bridges and good Indian cuisine farther north along the Sacramento.  Stay tuned.

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  1. David Ogden
    Posted 4 December 2016 at 10:27 | Permalink

    A stunning photo essay, Matte. Love the flapping bascules. Or any bascule for that matter.

    • Posted 4 December 2016 at 13:46 | Permalink

      My disappointment that not a single bascule flapped for me knew no bounds. That said, i was encouraged to learn in my research that, in spite of the existence of the ship channel to Sacramento roughly paralleling the river, there is still considerable lesser traffic on the river and that those drawbridges are opened several times a day during the busy season. Which means that if i went to Monte Rio during the busy season, whenever that is, i might be able to hang around until the appropriate vessel came along, capture photos of the bridge opening, and then race up CA-160 to the next bridge, capture that opening, and repeat all the way to Sacramento. Having done so, i’d probably expire of joy on the spot before i could get home and download the pics.

  2. Carol Sundell
    Posted 4 December 2016 at 18:25 | Permalink

    Master extraordinare of the bridge! Look forward to the next chapter!

    • Posted 4 December 2016 at 18:31 | Permalink

      You’re too kind, but this one was successful enough that i look forward to the next, which will occur on the first clear day when i don’t have a commitment.

  3. Mark Nicholas
    Posted 5 December 2016 at 11:19 | Permalink

    as always I just love your photos and what a great way to deal with the horror of an impending apocalypse… appreciating useful things that GOT DONE…things that just might still be around after the Apocalypse, too.

    • Posted 5 December 2016 at 19:07 | Permalink

      Oh yes, i’m keeping myself busy so i don’t think about the future, and yes, those drawbridges in this post are very, very durable.

  4. Laura Lucinda
    Posted 5 December 2016 at 18:15 | Permalink

    Enjoyed, thanks for the link. Will be tuned in.

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