Mystery Bridge Nr. 99: A Submerged Historic Bridge in The Springs

Tunnel View of the Bartlett Springs Bridge. All photos courtesy of Craig Philpott, used with permission

The State of California has been suffering from record-breaking droughts and forest fires since 2010, displacing several hundred thousand residents, forcing businesses to close in response to financial crunches and driving prices of the state’s commodities- namely produce and wine- sky high, even overseas. In fact, the 2018 forest fires, caused by a lethal combination of heat, extreme dry weather and high winds, has the potential of surpassing 2017 as the worst season for forest fires- on record!

And to give you an idea how bad 2017 was, …

In spite of this, the drought and forest fires do present some silver linings, even though they are considered relatively small in comparison to the big events that are affecting everybody. The first is the discovery of ancient artefacts that had been submerged in water thanks to the damming of creeks and rivers combined with the creation of lakes and reservoirs.

Take for instance this latest discovery by fellow bridgehunter and Californian resident Craig Philpott.

The Bartlett Springs Bridge is an example of a historic bridge that used to span a small creek before it became a lake. Spanning North Fork Cache Creek, this six-panel Pratt through truss bridge is located in the Springs region in Lake County in northern California. Specifically, as seen in the Google Map, the bridge is between Hough Springs and Indian Valley Reservoir, 25 miles southeast of the nearest city of Bartlett Springs. It can be seen from State Highway 303 and there used to be a road opposite of the creek that led to the structure. The bridge used to span a creek until it was dammed, and the Indian Valley Reservoir was created in 1975. The reservoir is 11 km long and 4 km wide, yet the water flowing from there had inundated the truss span, which is 95 feet long, 18 feet wide. Thanks to the drought, the truss bridge remains in tact and one can make some discoveries about it. For instance, the bridge is a pin-connected through truss structure with Howe lattice portal and strut bracings. Heel bracings with subdivisions are found on the portal bracings. With Town Lattice portal bracings being phased out at the time of its construction, the date of construction is narrowed down to between 1895 and 1915, the time of the introduction of standardized truss bridges with heavier steel and riveted connections. Many bridge builders used the Howe lattice portals, which makes it difficult to determine who built this one with the exception of companies based locally.  Vertical beams are V-laced, and railings are Town Lattice. Decking was wooden until it was abandoned in favor of a taller bridge made of steel and concrete. Now the decking is rotted and dilapidated.

The bridge appears to be in great shape based on personal observations, and there are calls for relocating the bridge onto higher ground to be restored and reused again. Sadly because of financial constraints, it may be possible to store it until there is enough funding to undertake this work. For sure though, the bridge has the potential of being elgible for the National Register of Historic Places, which opens the doors to grants and other funding possibilities for restoration and relocation.

The problem is, despite being the last bridge of its kind left in Lake County, the information is scarce apart from what is given. Can you help solve the case? If you know more about the bridge, leave a comment or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles. The information will then be added. The more information, the more likely the bridge could be up for listing. But only you can help. Can you?

A special thanks to Craig Philpott for allowing use of the photos. These are a few examples. You can see more by clicking here.