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Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge


Rattlesnake Bar was a small mining community located at the Placer County and El Dorado County line along the North Fork American River. During 1863 a wooden bridge was constructed at Rattlesnake Bar to facilitate access to quarry at Coral Caverns (now Alabaster Caverns). The original wooden span was replaced in 1865 with a suspension bridge. The 1865 suspension bridge would be open to traffic until 1954 when it was destroyed by an overloaded truck. The site of the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge became part of the Folsom Lake reservoir in 1955 and can still be viewed when the water is low.



The history of the Rattlesnake Bar Bridge

The history of the Rattlesnake Bar Bridge was featured in the September 1950 California Highways & Public Works Centennial edition.  The structure was notable during the 1850-1875 Pioneer Era due to it being one of the earliest suspension bridges constructed in the state.  Rattlesnake Bar was a small mining community located on the North Fork American River at what is now the El Dorado County and Placer County line.  During 1849-1850 a ferry across the North American River was placed at Rattlesnake Bar.  

This ferry at Rattlesnake Bar was replaced by a wooden bridge which was installed in 1863 following the devastating floods of 1862.  The wooden bridge was constructed to facilitate access to quarry at Coral Caverns (now Alabaster Caverns). The original wooden span was replaced in 1865 with the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge.  The article notes the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge was likely endangered due to the looming Folsom Lake reservoir project.  






The wooden Rattlesnake Bar Bridge was announced as being opened in the July 7, 1863, Sacramento Union (courtesy pitsenberger.com's page on the Rattlesnake Bar Bridge site).


The site of the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge can be seen south of Auburn at the North Fork American River on the 1882 Bancroft's Map of California.  


The 1914 C.F. Weber's Map of Placer County displays the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge in Township 11N, Range 8E. 


The 1935 Division of Highways Map of Placer County displays the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge in Township 11N, Range 8E. 


Construction of the concrete gravity Folsom Dam began during 1951.  The Folsom Lake reservoir was planned as flood control measure in the Sacramento area.  The maximum extent of the reservoir was slated to consume the site of the Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge.  The Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge would be collapsed by an overloaded truck during 1954.  Given the structure was already in a state of condemnation Placer County and El Dorado County elected not to rebuild it.  

The collapsed Rattlesnake Bar Suspension Bridge can be seen in a photo posted by Mike Monahan on the Placer County History Facebook Page.  


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