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NWP - Lagunitas Creek Phoenix Bridge



Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Lagunitas Creek & Road on Northwestern Pacific Railroad
Irving, Marin County, California
Replaced by a new bridge
Relocated here 1930 after being relocated to the Keyes Estuary in 1906/7 from Texas; Plausibly removed 1933
- Clarke, Reeves & Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Phoenix Iron Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Northwestern Pacific Railroad (NWP)
Pratt through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.01779, -122.72427   (decimal degrees)
38°01'04" N, 122°43'27" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/524202/4207824 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 90942 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 19, 2020: Added by Luke

Related Bridges 


NWP - Lagunitas Creek Phoenix Bridge
Posted October 20, 2020, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


RE 1: That does somewhat clarify the matter.

RE 2: In reading the John Stutz material, all I saw was documentation for one bridge from the Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio line. Based on what I read, I can't tell if it ties to a particular span that was shipped in or if it was a surplus set of documents that simply happened to be available and was handed over to Caltrans by SP so they could have a generic spec. on file.

If we can confirm that some or all of the bridges came from Texas, I suspect we can come up with span measurements. How precise do you need?

RE 3: Makes sense.


Art S.

NWP - Lagunitas Creek Phoenix Bridge
Posted October 20, 2020, by Luke

1) Art, the NWP dual-gauged the line from Duncans Mills to Fulton in 1909, so they probably did just yank the narrow gauge trackage and leave the standard gauge track alone.

This line was standard gauged in 1920.

2)The Caltrans stuff John Stutz cited states the Galveston, Houston, and San Antonio line in Texas: https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth298890/m1/1/

John and I have a document that lists several spans ordered from Phoenix by the GH&SA, but John couldn't find anything conclusive on the Monte Rio trio, and without span measurements of the Keyes Estuary spans, I can't even start looking.

3) As for why they rebuilt a bridge only to tear it down in a few years: I don't think the railroad foresaw the lumber industry switching from their rails to trucking companies. Much like how land developers in the region didn't foresee the railroads failing in the area and taking their fledgling "luxury subdivisions" in Cosmo (Hacienda.) with them.

NWP - Lagunitas Creek Phoenix Bridge
Posted October 20, 2020, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


RE 1: I question certain aspects of the Stutz text. I thought the line was re-gauged to standard in 1920. However, he states "the narrow gauge" was lifted rather that 'the track' or 'the rails.' The mixing of terminology is likely a simple mistake but it means we need to tread carefully with his statements even though they are a fantastic resource.

You mention a trail on an ROW, I guess I'm still no clear. Why go through the effort of upgrading a span for such a short term application? I'm not saying they didn't, it just seems odd.

RE 2 & 3: This would suggest that the 6 or more reused spans could come from anywhere on the SP system. One may have come from TX or maybe only the plans did. As the bridges were standard, its possible SP simply passed along a set of plans that were 'appropriate' for the bridge. Without more info, none of the bridges' origins are known, besides stating that it is likely they were repurposed by the SP during the first decade o the twentieth century from elsewhere on the SP system.

To me I would say that they all are from the early 1880s. Does anyone have any info on bridge upgrades by the SP, or its subsidiaries, in the early 1880s?

RE Keyes Estuary span status: long gone...


Art S.

NWP - Lagunitas Creek Phoenix Bridge
Posted October 19, 2020, by Luke


1) The text John C Stutz provided says verbatim "Two spans replaced the Howe Trusses at the mouth of Keys Creek in 1906. The steel cylinder piers remain, adjacent to highway 1, two miles south of Tomales. In 1930, as the narrow gauge was lifted, one was re-erected over Lagunitas Creek and Sir Francis Drake Blvd., in what is now Samuel P. Taylor State Park. That one was long since replaced by a modern bridge for the Cross Marin trail."

The modern trail bridge is on the railroad's ROW. Furthermore the highway at the time was being upgraded from wooden trusses (The original Shafter Bridge) to concrete structures (The second Shafter Bridge, a sadly-replaced open-spandrel arch.), so an iron truss wouldn't make sense as a road crossing.

2) Yes, NWP is the appropriate name as the North Pacific Coast, which became the Northwestern Pacific in 1907, built the Shafter Branch.

3) The NWP was partly run by the Southern Pacific (Willits south to Marin and Schellville) and partly run by the Santa Fe (South from Eureka through Humboldt County.)

Further proof that the NWP is an SP-associated line is the fact that both lines diesel locomotives shared the "bloody nose" and "black widow" paint scheme

4) Referencing the text from John C Stutz, the three entries you linked all came from http://bridgehunter.com/ca/sonoma/nwp-monte-rio/

The current status/location of the Keyes Estuary spans are "???¿¿¿⸮⸮⸮"

NWP - Lagunitas Creek Phoenix Bridge
Posted October 19, 2020, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


Something doesn't doesn't make sense. I'm OK with the bridges being bought used around 1907. But was this bridge relocated for railroad use or road use at this location? If road use, is NWP appropriate in the name? If RR use, why would NWP put up a bridge as they were failing?

John C. Stutz's description for Gualala http://bridgehunter.com/ca/mendocino/10C0046/ has an intriguing insight: "one of at least six that were recycled to minor rail lines in Sonoma and Marin Counties circa 1905-10. A CalTrans bridge report for one of these mentions drawings with the initials “G, H & S A”, suggesting the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio railroad, the Southern Pacific’s subsidiary in Texas."

It would be really nice to determine each of the bridge's original owner, build date and location.

If NWP is not a sub of SP, then its possible the deal was between G, H & S A and NWP and all six bridges came from TX. Otherwise, its likely that SP sold the bridges to secondary lines after upgrading all of their lines prior to 1907 and they may come from all over the SP system. Knowing this may help in clearing up the history of all of these spans and where they came from. Including explaining the 'built in 1909 and relocated here in 1937' signs at Geyers http://bridgehunter.com/ca/sonoma/20C0005/ and Haupt http://bridgehunter.com/ca/sonoma/bh43377/

I'm also curious about the 1920 re-gauging from narrow (probably 3') to standard. Many railroad bridges had under rail stringers tied directly to the floor beams and, depending on how they were originally built, could make re-gauging a challenge. Using the heavy duty stringers under the rails makes sense from an engineering perspective but these 'stringers' are not present on the remaining CA Phoenix Column bridges. Were they lost along the way orr never used in these spans?


Art S.