It was October 1996 when I first visited this stretch of the American River with the Big Guy. We rode across a small pedestrian bridge (officially named Jim’s Bridge as of 1989) on our bikes to explore the north bank, looking for promising fishing spots along Sacramento Bar.
I had seen this particular bridge many times but had never set foot on it; although the Big Guy referred to it as the PCA bridge, I knew nothing about its fascinating history. In fact, it’s now one of three bridges that currently cross this part of the American River. After Fair Oaks’ 1909 truss bridge was closed to truck traffic in 1953, the Pacific Aggregates Company, located on the south bank, built a bridge of their own. These days, it’s used exclusively by bikes and pedestrians.
Sacramento Bar, on the north bank of the American River in Fair Oaks, was the last gold dredging area along the river; dredging machines, which scooped up tons of river rocks looking for gold chunks and flecks and left behind the intimidating piles, operated until 1962. Across the river, and the modest San Juan Rapids, is Rossmoor Bar — Gold Country Orienteers