The bluffs at Fair Oaks, October 1996

Three bridges cross this stretch of the American River, connecting Fair Oaks on the north bank and the community of Gold River on the south bank. The westernmost span is Jim’s Bridge (discussed in last week’s post here); just upstream lies the Sunrise Boulevard bridge, built in 1955. The easternmost crossing is the Old Fair Oaks Bridge. This double-span Pennsylvania Petit truss (500 feet long), completed in 1909, is a full 16 years younger than its cousin upstream, the single-span truss bridge (330 feet long) connecting Sutter Street and the American River Bike Trail on the north shore of Lake Natoma.

Sunrise Boulevard bridge, looking upstream
The view west along the American River
The Big Guy’s fishing rod is visible on the right edge of the photo

This wide bend in the American River in Sacramento County represents a major crossing — nearly 700 feet across a river that was in 1907 endowed with extremely high winter and spring runoff. The Sacramento County surveyor obviously hoped to minimize the number of piers in this dangerous current, which, of course, necessitated very long spans… The bridge is also a rare example of the Western Bridge and Construction Company, an Omaha, Nebraska, firm that built truss bridges throughout the West but only rarely in California — quoted from Up Sunset Avenue: The Early Years of Fair Oaks, 1995.

Crossing the Old Fair Oaks Bridge, April 2004

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