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Penn Valley in Nevada County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Bridgeport (Nyes Crossing) Covered Bridge
 
Bridgeport (Nyes Crossing) Covered Bridge Marker Photo, Click for full size
October 22, 2006
1. Bridgeport (Nyes Crossing) Covered Bridge Marker
 
Inscription. Built in 1862 by David Isaac John Wood with lumber from his mill in Sierra County, this bridge was part of the Virginia Turnpike Company toll road which served the northern mines and the busy Nevada Comstock Lode. Utilizing a combination truss and arch construction, it is one of the oldest housed spans in the west and the longest single-span wood-covered bridge in the United States.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 390

Plaque placed by the California State Park Commission in cooperation with the Nevada County Historical Society and the Wm B. Meek -- Wm M. Stewart Chapter No. 10, E Clampus Vitus, May 23, 1964.
 
Erected 1964 by California State Park Commission, Nevada County Historical Society, Wm B. Meek -- Wm M. Stewart Chapter No. 10, E Clampus Vitus. (Marker Number 390.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the E Clampus Vitus marker series.
 
Location. 39° 17.519′ N, 121° 11.705′ W. Marker is in Penn Valley, California, in Nevada County. Marker can be reached from Pleasant Valley Road. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Penn Valley CA 95946, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies
 
Bridgeport (Nyes Crossing) Covered Bridge Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Karen Key, October 16, 2009
2. Bridgeport (Nyes Crossing) Covered Bridge Marker
On a 10/16/2009 visit, I noticed that the plaque from the marker is missing.
 
. Bridgeport Historic District (here, next to this marker); Bridgeport Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Bridgeport Bridge (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The First Long Distance Telephone (approx. 2 miles away); Anthony House and Ranch (approx. 4 miles away); Rough and Ready (approx. 5.3 miles away); Fippin's Blacksmith Shop (approx. 5.3 miles away); Republic of Rough and Ready (approx. 5.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Penn Valley.
 
More about this marker. There are three markers for the bridge, two on the south end and one on the north end. See nearby markers for more information.
 
Regarding Bridgeport (Nyes Crossing) Covered Bridge. Bridgeport is one of only 10 covered bridges remaining in California. The bridge is in very good condition considering its age. Built in 1862, at 251 feet, it is the longest single span covered bridge in the United States.

The type of construction is unique, a Howe truss with an auxiliary Burr arch. The arch is visible from the outside as well as the inside, consisting of two five by fourteen inch timbers bolted together, squeezing between them the members of the truss. This combination, made from local Douglas Fir, and resting on
 
Bridgeport Covered Bridge Photo, Click for full size
Jet Lowe, for the Historic American Engineering Record, 1984
3. Bridgeport Covered Bridge
View is looking east, toward the newer Pleasant Valley Road bridge.
 
massive granite blocks, endured the weight of a 13 ton tractor without excessive strain. Today the bridge is rated at 3 tons because of the age of the timber. The unique design seems to have been taken from a plan or design prepared by Theodore Burr for a bridge constructed in 1804, across the Hudson River and patented in 1817.

The Sugar Pine shake roofing and sides not only protect the timber from the weather, but contribute an air of historic antiquity which attracts many visitors to see and photograph it.

In 1853, the California Legislature authorized the formation of "Turnpike Companies" that would build roads and bridges and maintain and operate them as business ventures. County governments were newly formed and generally without funds to build or maintain the many roads and bridges, thus creating the need for the "Turnpike Companies". Tolls were approved by the local county Boards of Supervisors.

The Virginia Turnpike Company, organized in 1856, by David I. Wood, arranged for construction of the toll road from a point near the Anthony House (under present day Lake Wildwood), to French Corral, a distance of 10 miles. The later became a portion of the heavily traveled route between Marysville and Virginia City.

The bridge was built under the direction of Mr. Wood. The lumber was produced by his sawmill in Forest City. The bridge was taken
 
View inside the Bridgeport Covered Bridge Photo, Click for full size
By Laura Bell, March 31, 2008
4. View inside the Bridgeport Covered Bridge
 
over by Nevada County from the Virginia Turnpike Company in 1901. From that date no further tolls were charged.

The Bridgeport Covered Bridge was acquired by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in 1986, and is now the centerpiece of the South Yuba River State Park.

The bridge is both a State and National Historic Landmark. It is truly a living memorial to the high degree of individual initiative and private enterprise which was such a driving force in 19th century California.
(Source: Nevada County Gold, The Official Online Guide to Nevada County http://www.ncgold.com/index.html)
 
Also see . . .
1. South Yuba River State Park. (Submitted on June 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
2. History of the Bridgeport Bridge. Website from the Nevada County Gold, The Official Online Guide to Nevada County (Submitted on June 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 

3. Historic American Engineering Record entry for the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. In 1962, the bridge was slated for demolition, but historic preservationists fought to preserve it, raising the necessary funds for its rehabilitation in 1970-71. It carried traffic until 1973, when a new concrete bridge was built upstream. (Submitted on June 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 
 
Additional comments.
 
Old Toll Charges Photo, Click for full size
By Pam Muzyka Dixon, August 18, 2007
5. Old Toll Charges
 
1. Missing Plaque

The plaque for Nyes Crossing fell off of it's mounting and it currently in the possesion of the rangers office. The local chapter of ECV (the same chapter 10 that mounted the plaque in the first place) offered to remount it however the ranger in charge of the bridge has some disputes with the wording on the plaque and requested a change. Chapter 10 is unwilling to revise the history and research already performed, and to this day the plaque remains unmounted.
    — Submitted March 1, 2010, by Jason A. Thorn of Penn Valley, California.

2. Replacement Plaque
In October 2014 this marker was replaced by California State Parks with a grant from the Native Sons of the Golden West Historical Preservation Foundation. It is now titled (and filed under) Bridgeport Historic District.
    — Submitted October 27, 2014, by James King of San Miguel, California.

 
Credits. This page originally submitted on June 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 3,408 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on June 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   2. submitted on October 31, 2009, by Karen Key of Sacramento, California.   3, 4, 5. submitted on June 25, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Readable photograph of the replacement marker. • Can you help?
 
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