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Yankee Jims Bridge

The Yankee Jims Bridge is a structure located on the North Fork American River of Placer County.  What is now Yankee Jims Road was purchased by Placer County in 1906 from a local mining company.  The original bridge along Yankee Jims Road failed in 1930 and was replaced by the current 204-foot-long suspension span.  The Yankee Jims Bridge was added to the Caltrans Historic Bridge program in 1985 and presently has a sufficiency rating of 0.0.  Placer County is presently planning to replace the Yankee Jims Bridge with a modernized arch span.  The preferred design alternative would preserve the current Yankee Jims Bridge as a pedestrian structure.  

Part 1; the history of the Yankee Jims Bridge

The community of Yankee Jims founded during 1850 when the so-called "Yankee Jim" staked claims in the area.  A community would soon arise near the new claims and the first mining ditch in Placer County would be constructed.  Yankee Jims would be incorporated into the Placer County Emigrant Road which was plotted from the western shores of Lake Tahoe (then officially Lake Bigler) in 1852 (September 1950 California Highways & Public Works).    

Yankee Jims can be seen along the Placer County Emigrant Road on the 1857 Britton & Reys Map of California.  

In 1906 Placer County purchased the toll road between Colfax and Yankee Jims from the Colfax Commerical Company for $7,000.  The purchase of the so-called "Yankee Jims Road" included a deck truss bridge over the North Fork American River in Shirttail Canyon.  Yankee Jims Road can be seen as a public road branching east from Colfax on the 1917 California State Automobile Association Map.  

During 1930 the bridge over the North Fork American River would fail.  Placer County approved an emergency project which would see the current Yankee Jims Bridge constructed by Palm Bridge & Iron Works.  Yankee Jims Road can be seen as a major county highway on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Placer County.  

The Yankee Jims Bridge is a 204-foot-long suspension span.  The structure became eligible for the Caltrans Historic Bridge program in 1985.  

The Yankee Jims Bridge can be seen in two undated Caltrans digital collection photos. 

During September 2017 Placer County announced a design contract had been awarded to replace the Yankee Jims Bridge.  The impetus for replacing the 1930 era structure was the low weight limit (three tons) preventing modernized traffic to adequately cross the North Fork American River.  The weight limit prevented fire crews from using the span to access the Robbers Fire during 2012.  The structure currently has a sufficiency rating of 0.0. 

The Yankee Jims Bridge replacement project Environmental Impact Report was in a review period from November 9, 2023, through January 10, 2024.  The current Build Alternative would preserve the existing span for pedestrian use and replace the structure with an Arch Suspension bridge.  

Part 2; a visit to the Yankee Jims Bridge

From Canyon Way near Colfax traffic can access eastbound Yankee Jims Road.  Traffic is advised of eight miles of curves and the general primitive nature of the road approaching the North Fork American River Canyon (all photos in this section were submitted by Josh Schmid).

Yankee Jims Road eastbound is carried to the namesake bridge by approximately four miles of single lane gravel.  

A small parking area can be found at the western end of the Yankee Jims Bridge.  The structure is a popular location for swimmers visiting the North Fork American River during summer months.  

Crossing the Yankee Jims Bridge headed eastbound.  

Miscellaneous photos of the Yankee Jims Bridge from the eastern side of the structure.  

An informational station for the Auburn State Recreation Area.  

The Yankee Jims Bridge from the North Fork American River.

Facing west over the Yankee Jims Bridge.

Facing east towards the Yankee Jims Bridge from afar.  

Structural elements of the Yankee Jims Bridge suspension span.  

East of the Yankee Jims Bridge the road passes through Devils Canyon where Devils Falls can be found.


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