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1906 North Fork Road Bridge Ruins

Downstream from the Friant Dam is North Fork Road which crosses the San Joaquin River on a bridge which was completed in 1952.  Downstream from said 1952 bridge is an older right-of-way and very apparent bridge ruin which caught my eye on many a trip past Millerton Lake.


It turns out that particular bridge ruin is the reinforced concrete 1906 North Fork Road Bridge.  The 1906 North Fork Road Bridge was the first reinforced concrete bridge in Fresno County was the replacement of a wooden structure that was built in 1883.  During the collapse of the 1889 Lanes Bridge in 1940 the 1906 North Fork Road Bridge became Temporary California State Route 41 until a replacement structure was open in 1941.  Somehow despite the Friant Dam being completed in 1949 flood waters downstream from the structure became bad enough in 1951 to wipe out the 1906 North Fork Road Bridge.  Oddly rather removing the 1906 structure when the 1952 replacement was built it was instead left in the San Joaquin River as it was.  The ruins are easily viewed from the 1952 bridge by pulling over to the south shoulder.





Apparently the canyon that the Friant Dam and North Fork Road dips into was once called Jenny Lind Canyon.  The 1883 wooden bridge apparently shared the name of the Canyon and was the first bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River in Fresno County.  At the time the 1883 Jenny Lind Bridge was built the village Friant was still known as Hamptonville.  Hamptonville was established as a ferry crossing of the San Joaquin River in 1852.



Fortunately the 1906 North Fork Bridge collapsed at the right time because the 1952 replacement still has classic California highway design flair.







For perspective the Friant Dam literally is within walking distance to the north of both the 1906 and 1952 North Fork Road bridges.





It wasn't easy compiling documentation on the 1906 bridge but the Lanes Bridge article I cited in the previous blog mentions it.  I was also able to find partial information on the 1906 bridge on Bridgehunter.com.

Lanes Bridge Spanned Decades

Bridge Hunter on 1906 North Fork Road Bridge

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