The Bridgeport Covered Bridge was built in 1862 and has been in continuous use ever since. The bridge was part of the Virginia Turnpike Company Toll Road to serve the northern mines. Horses and carriages also traveled to Virginia City, Nevada and the Comstock silver mines of Nevada.
The Bridgeport Covered Bridge crosses a rocky channel of the South Fork of the Yuba River at Bridgeport. It is a well known and loved Nevada County landmark. Building toll roads became popular during the Gold Rush because the booming population required building more roads. California state government decided that toll roads were the best way to finance the new construction by private companies.
The shake roof and wooden sides create the bridge’s characteristic appearance. Using truss and arch construction, the bridge stretches 230 feet and is reported to be the longest single-span wooden covered bridge in the United States.
Severe flooding almost washed away the bridge during the winter of 1997, and luckily maintenance workers were able to repair it. Bridgeport Covered Bridge closed to car traffic in 2010 due to serious maintenance issues. In 2011, the bridge closed to pedestrians, also due to safety concerns. Currently, the South Yuba River State Park Association (SYRPA) Save Our Bridge (S.O.B.) Campaign is underway to repair, restore and reopen the Covered Bridge at Bridgeport. Please help reopen this coveted historic bridge and visit southyubariverstatepark.org for more information and a PayPal donation link.
The Office of Historic Preservation describes in their historical report on this landmark what the county surveyor wrote in a report in 1905 about the bridge.
“Dropping into the South Fork of the Yuba River, on the old route from the mines of French Corral and the San Juan Ridge to Marysville, the traveler comes unexpectedly upon one of the most remarkable of the covered bridges. In 1862, after a winter of rains had swept out an earlier structure, this combination of Warren truss and auxiliary arch erected by J.W. Woods, owner of a sawmill in the mountains. The material is local Douglas-fir. The abutments are massive granite blocks. Today this bridge endures without excessive strain the passage of a 13-ton tractor.
“Engineers say it is impossible to figure the proportion of stress carried by the truss and by the arch, either of which is capable of carrying the entire weight. The arch, visible both from without and with, consists of two 5 x 14 timbers bolted together, squeezing them between the members of the truss.”
The historical landmark is located on the West side of Pleasant Valley Road at the South Fork of the Yuba River, 2.7 miles south of French Corral.
Nevada means “snow-covered” in Spanish. During winter months, Nevada County’s eastern border is wholly engulfed in the snows of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In the 1840s and 1850s many emigrants arrived in California via the Overland Emigrant Trail which threaded through the infamous Donner Pass.