Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bell's Bridge

NoeHill photo

Shasta County August 29, 1993

About 10 miles from the previous landmark, the Pioneer Baby’s Grave we arrive at the proper location but where is Bell’s Bridge? The older California Historical Landmarks book shows that a state plaque is at the location (as does the updated book) and yet nothing was found back in 1993. In 1998, ace landmark finder Donald Laird found what remains of a local landmark without a plaque nearby, see photo. The NoeHill folks from San Francisco had this to say::
“According to our calculations, Bell's bridge used to be here. But we found no bridge, no creek, no plaque. Just a particularly nasty intersection where
Clear Creek Road
Westside Road
meet Old Highway 99, rechristened Highway 273 along this stretch. An employee of the nearest business said that a plaque used to stand at this intersection, but she did not remember when it disappeared. Head about seven miles out
Clear Creek Road
for a more bucolic scene.”…sounds like they had a tough time in that part of the community.
At any rate, despite multiple attempts, this marker remains a mystery as to where it might be.

If you want to see a bridge in this town however, you’re in luck, for one of the coolest bridges anywhere in the world has recently taken up residence; The Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay.

Local historian Dottie Smith over at Shasta County has this to say about Bell’s Bridge:
“In 1851, during the height of The Gold Rush, this was an important and popular place.  Mr. J. J. Bell established Bell's Toll Bridge, a hotel (above), a stagecoach stopping place, and eventually a horse racing track all at this location.  His bridge crossed Clear Creek where present-day Hwy. 273 crosses Clear Creek.  Bell's Mansion House was located nearby, near where the big trees are still standing beside Clear Creek and across the creek from WinRiver Casino.  I don't know exactly where the horse racing track was, but I believe it was out on the flat area directly west of where the Mansion House once stood.  His Mansion House (see photo) became a popular stopping place for thousands of men on their way to and from the gold mines.  This was the location of one of the very first northern California stagecoach stations.”

Donald Laird photo

Plaque inscription: NO. 519 BELL'S BRIDGE - Erected in 1851 by J. J. Bell, this was an important toll bridge on the road from Shasta City to Tehama. Bell's Mansion, erected in 1859 on Clear Creek, was a favorite stopping place for miners on their way to the Shasta, Trinity, and Siskiyou gold fields.
Location: SW corner of old Hwy 99 and
Clear Creek Rd, Redding

Google maps: 40.516311,-122.381601

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