Bucks Bar Bridge, "Functionally Obsolete" since 1941

by Placerville Newswire / Mar 16, 2017 / comments

[By Bonnie Wurm. Image From County Public Meeting Presentation]

The natural gravels that allow for a fording of the North Fork of the Consumnes River, just above the current Bucks Bar Bridge, have served humanity for centuries. Reports document the area originally as a Native American campsite. In 1850 Buck's Bar Gold Camp was established on the north shore of the North Fork of the Cosumnes River about a half-mile upstream from the current bridge location. This location was an active placer mining camp. As the mining potential in the southern part of the county and logging enterprises were developed, a well maintained road and river crossing were needed to connect the communities that grew to service these enterprises. Buck's Bar Road and the first bridge were originally owned by the Buck's Bar Turnpike & Bridge Co. and operated by Daniel Hoag.

In 1857 the road from Bartam's Mill (Gutenberger's Place) to Somerset became a public right-of-way. Even though the road was privately owned, the classification of "public right-of-way" meant that tolls would be regulated by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. The first bridge built by Hoag was upstream of the present bridge. The bridge was washed out twice in 1860. When the bridge was out the travelers were forced to ford the river at great peril to themselves and their livestock. During the winter water rages through the narrowing gorge that funnels into the great stone bluff called "The Devil's Slide."

In 1864 Daniel Robert Carson bought the Buck's Bar Turnpike & Bridge Co. from Hoag and in 1867 turned the management over to Edwin Holt (Carson had sold his ranch to Holt in 1864 and moved to property in Ladies Valley). When Carson died in 1873 with no heirs, the State took over title to the road and bridge. The bridge again washed out that winter and was not reconstructed. For the next 42 years there was only a suspended walk bridge during much of the time, until a bridge was finally constructed in 1915. Wagons and stock had to ford the river at the shallow area just above the current bridge or ferried across. With the advent of the automobile travelers could no longer ford the stream as they had with horse and wagon. There was, however, another road that could take travelers from the southern part of El Dorado County (Somerset, Fairplay, Mt. Aukum, and Grizzly Flat) to Placerville through Hank's Exchange through Ladies Valley across to Sand Ridge, though safer it could take up to two hours longer.

The county officially became responsible for the road and crossing in 1886. And still, even though the Bucks Bar Road was fairly heavily traveled, a new bridge was not built until 1915. The shorter travel time and increased need for an automobile friendly crossing brought pressure to bear on the county to build a bridge. With community fund raising and funds from the Board of Supervisors a new covered bridge was built in 1915 for $3,700. The sturdy construction and new location being higher than the usual high water mark kept the bridge from being washed away. There were other improvements to the road also. It had become necessary to straighten out a few curves for the giant steam traction machines that hauled logs from Dog Town above Grizzly Flats to Diamond Springs.

The covered bridge stood until 1941 when it was replaced by the bridge that stands today. This new bridge cost $8,000 and used the old abutments from the 1915 bridge, adding arch, columns, and a new roadbed of reinforced concrete. In 1997 the river once again overflowed the bridge but it withstood the torrent of water, the road¬bed was only covered in mud but remained intact. The total length is 70.9 feet, and barely allows two modern vehicles to cross at the same time. Because of the narrow width of the bridge, traffic control is currently necessary with a yield sign on the north entrance to the bridge. According to the most recent report on bridges in California, the 1941 bridge is "functionally obsolete." •
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Facts 

Overview

Concrete arch bridge over North Fork Cosumnes River on Bucks Bar Road

Location

El Dorado CountyCalifornia

Status

Open to traffic

Future prospects

At risk for demolition and replacement.

History

Built 1940

Design

Open spandrel deck arch

Dimensions

Length of largest span: 69.9 ft.
Total length: 70.9 ft.
Deck width: 19.0 ft.

Approximate latitude, longitude

+38.65278, -120.70083   (decimal degrees)
38°39'10" N, 120°42'03" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")

Approximate UTM coordinates

10/700070/4280754 (zone/easting/northing)

Quadrangle map:

Camino

Inventory numbers

CA 25C-3 (California bridge number)
BH 10864 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Inspection (as of 07/2015)

Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Very Good (8 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 71.4 (out of 100)

Average daily traffic (as of 2012)

4,491