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1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge

This past week I stumbled upon the ruins of the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge over the San Joaquin River in western Fresno County, California.


The 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge was a replacement for Firebaugh's Ferry which had been in place since 1854.  I previously wrote about Firebaugh's Ferry which can be found here.

November Bay Area Trip Part 9; Firebaugh's Ferry

The 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge was known locally as the Great Drawbridge of Firebaugh and was a swing span.  The 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge was along 12th Street at the San Joaquin River and measured 670 feet in length.  The 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge originally connect to California State Route 33 via 12th Street at O Street in downtown Firebaugh.  The ruins of the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge can be just north of 13th Street in the Firebaugh Rodeo Grounds.





The spindle for the draw span on the 1885 Firebaugh Bridge is still present in the San Joaquin River.  According to bridgehunter.com the Firebaugh Drawbridge didn't open from 1908 to 1948 due to water flow on the San Joaquin River being controlled upsteam.  Agricultural division in the and the progression of the Big Creek Project early 20th century greatly reduced the flow of the San Joaquin River in San Joaquin Valley.  The San Joaquin River was once navigable through much of its course at low elevations but is no longer aside from small crafts.



The 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge was replaced by a new span on 13th Street.  The 1948 span has since been replaced by a modern structure.  Firebaugh's Ferry would have been located between the 1885 Firebaugh Bridge and the 13th Street Bridge.



I noticed some interesting oddities near the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge ruins.  One of the nearby murals depicted the Butterland Overland Mail Route which Firebaugh's Ferry was a part of.  A nearby building was using a ACSC sourced sign.  The sign would have been located on what was California State Route 33 northbound at 12th Street and O Street in downtown in Firebaugh.



The bridgehunter.com article on the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge can be found here.

bridgehunter.com on the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge

This 1893 map of Fresno County depicts the City of Firebaugh and the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge crossing the San Joaquin River.

1893 Fresno County Sectional Map 

A picture of the 1885 Firebaugh Drawbridge can be viewed at the Chevron located at 12th Street and CA 33.

Comments

Unknown said…
Thank you, for writing this article. As I reqd it, I am sitting here, in the park, om a bench, looking out at the remains of the bridge. I was once a Firebaugh resident, but still enjoy just sitting here, and looking out at the river, whenever I have achnce to visit. The City of Firebaugh, has quite some stories to tell, dating back to at least the mid 1800's.

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