National Register of Historic Places in Sonoma County

National Register #89000945: Guerneville Bridge 24 May 2005
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National Register #89000945
Guerneville Bridge
Old Route 116 Over Russian River
Built 1922

Route 116 is the major route between San Francisco and the Russian River resorts. It crosses the river only once, at Guerneville.

Popular travel to the Russian River resorts by train began in 1876, but in the 20th century the automobile gradually took over this function.

Symbolizing the new transportation is the fact that in Guerneville, "Around 1927 the blacksmith shop was closed permanently. And the hardware store was converted into a garage to repair the increasing number of gasoline powered vehicles."

The train's peak passenger year was 1923, when it carried 30,000 people on the July Fourth weekend alone. The train's peak year coincided with the Guerneville Bridge's first year of operation, and many train tourists must have seen a new possibility symbolized by the existence of the bridge. Then in September of 1923 a forest fire burned everything between Guerneville and the coast. The trains never really recovered, dropping various runs in the late 1920s and ceasing forever in the fall of 1935.

The bridge was constructed in 1922, and the official grand opening took place on 27 December 1922. The location of the bridge had been noted as a river crossing as early as 1861, and subsequently wagons carrying out the lumber via Pocket Canyon (Route 116), crossed near here on a low "summer bridge" that had to be dismantled annually because of winter floods.

The first year-round bridge had been constructed in 1885, on the present location, a wooden bridge with two iron spans of Pratt combination truss. After 35 years of wear, the 1885 bridge was seriously damaged in the flash flood of November 1920, and the newspaper was later to declare it could not make it through the winter of 1922-1923. So it was torn down and a temporary bridge was constructed.

Adapted from the NRHP nomination dated 15 June 1989.

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