Skip to main content

California State Route 283; former US Route 101 over the Rio Dell Bridge

This week we examine one of California's shortest State Highways; California State Route 283.  California State Route 283 includes the 1941 Rio Dell Bridge and is a former segment of US Route 101.  The photo below is the Rio Dell Bridge after the 1964 Christmas Floods which wiped out the northern approach span. 


California State Route 283 ("CA 283") is a 0.36 Mile State Highway between modern US Route 101/Redwood Highway and the community of Rio Dell in Humboldt County.  The key feature of CA 283 is the 1941 Rio Dell Bridge which was the second alignment of US Route 101.  The Rio Dell Bridge connected Scotia north over the Eel River via Wildwood Avenue to Rio Dell.  The Rio Dell Bridge is a steel truss design which 1,643.1 feet in length.  The Rio Dell Bridge is also known as; North Scotia Bridge, Eel River Bridge, Scotia-Rio Dell Bridge, Albert Stanwood Murphy Memorial Bridge, and the Eagle Prairie Bridge.  CA 283 is unsigned presently ranks as the second shortest State Highway only behind the barely existing CA 225.




Part 1; the history of the Rio Dell Bridge and California State Route 283

The communities of Scotia and Rio Dell were part of Legislative Route 1 ("LRN 1").  LRN 1 was known as the Redwood Highway and was originally defined as a route between San Francisco north to Crescent City.  LRN 1 was part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond act which was approved by voters during 1910 according to CAhighways.org.  LRN 1/Redwood Highway first appears under state maintenance on the 1918 Division of Highways State Map.


During November 1926 the US Route System was created.  Subsequently US Route 101 was aligned north of San Francisco through the communities of Scotia and Rio Dell en route to Oregon.  US Route 101 appears as the highway through Scotia and Rio Dell on the 1926 Rand McNally Highway Map


Early US 101/LRN 1 appear on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Humboldt County.


The March 1940 California Highway & Public Works Guide ("CHPW") details the construction of the North Scotia Bridge (the original name of the Rio Dell Bridge) and Robinson Ferry Bridge as new alignments of US 101/LRN 1.  The CHPW articles cites that prior to the completion of bridges on the Eel River during 1914 traffic had to utilize ferries to cross north of Scotia (note; a bridge between Rio Dell and Scotia existed previously but was wiped out by floods in 1905).  The ferry routes were replaced with steel structures built by Humboldt County which had 17 foot wide road decks.  The new Rio Dell Bridge and Robinson Ferry Bridge were cited to be of a steel truss construction with 26 foot wide road decks.  Both the Rio Dell Bridge and Robinson Ferry Bridge were cited to have an anticipated opening of July 1941.  Detailed drawings of the Rio Dell Bridge and Robinson Ferry Bridge are shown in the March 1940 CHPW.






The Rio Dell Bridge, Robinson Ferry Bridge, and the Smith River Bridge in Del Norte County were all dedicated during ceremonies on March 27th-28th 1941 according to the April 1941 CHPW.  All three bridges were cited to be part of the National Defense Highway System which meant they were a priority during World War II.  The original Redwood Highway/LRN 1 steel structure can be seen next to the Rio Dell Bridge during the dedication ceremony and is cited to have been condemned.











The planned freeway realignment of US Route 101 east of Rio Dell and Scotia is discussed in the January/February 1964 CHWP.


The Rio Dell Bridge is shown to be damaged in the January/February 1965 CHPW during the Christmas 1964 floods on the Eel River.  The Rio Dell Bridge is referred to as the "North Scotia Bridge."


The broken northern approach to the Rio Dell Bridge is shown to have been functionally reopened via a single temporary in the March/April 1965 CHPW.  Oddly the Rio Dell Bridge is referred to as the "Scotia-Rio Dell Bridge."



The March/April 1965 CHPW states that prior to the Rio Dell Bridge being reopened to automotive traffic the gap in the north span was temporarily bridged via a foot span.


According to the March/April 1965 CHPW the temporary one-lane north approach span to the Rio Dell Bridge was completed by January 13th 1965.  Blue Slide Road is stated to have been pressed into duty as temporary US Route 101.


The March/April CHPW 1965 cites permanent repairs to the Rio Dell Bridge carried an estimated cost of $223,304.25 dollars.


The May/June 1965 CHPW cites the Rio Dell Bridge was anticipated to have been fully repaired by August 1965.


According to CAhighways.org CA 283 was defined by 1970 Legislative Chapter 1473 via transfer from US 101.  The original route definition of CA 283 was "Route 101 south of Rio Dell to the north end of the Eel River Bridge and Overhead in Rio Dell."  According to the North Coast Journal the US 101 bypass of Rio Dell was completed in 1973.  Unlike the Rio Dell Bridge the Robinson Ferry Bridge was retained as the northbound lanes of modern US 101.  The Rio Dell Bridge and Robinson Ferry Bridge were likely retained under state maintenance due to the considerable costs associated with repairing them during 1965.  CA 283 first appears on the 1975 Caltrans State Map.


The Rio Dell Bridge was officially named the "Albert Stanwood Murphy Bridge" during 1977 according to CAhighways.org.  The modern name of the "Eagle Prairie Bridge" was adopted during 1990.  "Eagle Prairie" is a reference to a former name for the community of Rio Dell.


Part 2; a drive on California State Route 283

Our drive on CA 283 begins in Rio Dell headed south on Wildwood Avenue/former US 101 approaching the Rio Dell Bridge.  At the intersection with Bridge Street a shield directing traffic to US Route 101 can be seen.












CA 283 begins at Post Mile HUM 0.356 just south of Bridge Street.  Wildwood Avenue is another reference to a former name of the community of Rio Dell which began as a logging town.  The Rio Dell Bridge has some fantastic views of the Eel River.  A stamp plate from the Judson Pacific Company can be found displaying a date of "1940."





 
 
CA 283 southbound crosses the Rio Dell Bridge and the Eel River.






Upon crossing the Rio Dell Bridge CA 283 southbound takes a left hand turn onto Scotia Court and ends at modern US 101/Redwood Highway.  Former US 101 in Scotia can be accessed by staying on Wildwood Avenue which becomes Main Street.



Comments

Unknown said…
Tell you more
Carl Hand-up said…
Hello, I have been publishing Humboldt history related items on the Facebook Page Humboldt History. I have a photo I’d like to share with you showing the bridge damaged in the 1930’s. Agree or disagree. Your thoughts please
Challenger Tom said…
Sure, I'd love to see it. My email is: tomfearer@yahoo.com.

Popular posts from this blog

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page.  For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below. Gribblenation US Route 99 Page Ridge Route corridor introdution The Ridge Route as originally envisioned was a segment of highway which was completed in 1915 between the northern Los Angeles city limit

Establishing the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates

The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 brought the Interstate Highway System into existence which would largely be constructed by Federal Highway Administration fund matching.  The Interstate Highway System was deliberately numbered to run opposite the established conventions of the US Route System.  While the Interstate Highway numbering conventions are now well established there was a period during the late 1950s where they were still being finalized.  This blog examines the history of the establishing of the chargeable Interstate Highway route numbers in California.  The above blog cover depicts the Interstate Highway route numbers requested by the Division of Highways in the Los Angeles area during November 1957.  The establishment of the numbering conventions of California's chargeable Interstates The Interstate Highway System was not created in a vacuum by way of the passage of the 1956 Federal Highway Aid Act.  The beginning of the Interstate Highway System can be found in the

California State Route 210 (legacy of California State Route 30)

  California State Route 210 is a forty-mile-long limited access State Highway located in Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County.  California State Route 210 exists as a non-Interstate continuation of Interstate 210 and the Foothill Freeway between California State Route 57 in San Dimas east to Interstate 10 Redlands.  California State Route 210 was previously designated as California State Route 30 until the passage of 1998 Assembly Bill 2388, Chapter 221.  Since 2009 the entirety of what was California State Route 30 has been signed as California State Route 210 upon the completion of the Foothill Freeway extension.  Below westbound California State Route 210 can be seen crossing the Santa Ana River as the blog cover.  California State Route 30 can be seen for the last time on the 2005 Caltrans Map below.  Part 1; the evolution of California State Route 30 into California State Route 210 What was to become California State Route 30 (CA 30) entered the State Highway System duri