- Fair Oaks Bridge
name = Fair Oaks Bridge
category = Pratt Truss bridge
official_name = Fair Oaks Bridge
Fair Oaks, California
country = United States
state = California
region_type = County
region = Sacramento
municipality = Sacramento,
municipality1 = Sacramento
parent_type = Road
Fair Oaks Boulevard
road_note = 2 lanes
road1_type = Track
road2_type = Sidewalks
road2 = South side
river = American River
river_type = Crosses
lat_d = 38.5688795
lat_NS = N
long_d = 121.4229262
long_EW = W
number_type = Number of Spans
height_type = Clearance
height1_type = Navigational
height1_note = mid-span
style_type = Design
material = Steel
author_type = Builder
Western Bridge and Construction Company
established_type = Built
established = 1907
established1_type = Opened
established2_type = Reconstructed
management_type = Maintained by
management = ? County
code_type = NBI Number
code_label = National Bridge Inventory identification number
code = [http://nationalbridges.com/nbi_record.php?StateCode&2&struct&]
map_caption = Location of the Fair Oaks Bridge in California
map_locator = California
map1 = Map of USA CA.svg
map1_caption = Location of California in the United States
The Fair Oaks Bridge is a
truss bridgeover the lower banks of the American River, connecting Fair Oaks to the greater Sacramento, Californiaregion. The current bridge, built in 1907, is the third bridge at this location.
The first bridge, which opened in 1901, helped to transform the small semi-rural community into a turn-of-the-century agricultural powerhouse. The present bridge, opened in 1907, helped to transform the
citruscolony into one of the leading bedroom communities of Sacramento by the 1940s. It is now a pedestrian and bicycle-only bridge.
19th century background
Brevet Brigadier General Charles H. Howard and James W. Wilson of the Howard-Wilson Publishing Company of Chicago acquired rights to sell land from California Senator Frederick K. Cox and businessman Crawford W. Clarke in 1895. The Howard-Wilson Company had the land surveyed and mapped and began to promote Fair Oaks as one of their “Sunset Colonies.” The Howard-Wilson Company advertised Fair Oaks as an innovative and growing citrus colony after destructive freezes in Southern California and Florida and a national depression hitting in 1893. Many of the purchasers were professionals and other friends of the investors. Thus, the Fair Oaks community became initially composed of mostly businessmen and other professionals, including bankers and engineers.
Three hundred permanent settlers resided in Fair Oaks by 1897 and bought land in 5, 10, and 20 acre tracts at an average of $30 per acre. These pioneers planned to sustain themselves by planting and cultivating fruit orchards although the majority of them had little experience with farming. Promises of a bridge being built over the American River to better transport the new colony’s fruit to the booming markets in Sacramento and beyond further sustained this hope. The following year, however, investment began to diminish and the Howard-Wilson Company withdrew from the colony and with it went unfulfilled promises of a bridge over the American River and railroad service from Sacramento.
Businessmen in Chicago and Sacramento who had an investment (land or fruit) in the newborn colony and
Orangevaleformed the Chicago-Fair Oaks Club in 1899. Local businessmen, including Valentine S. McClatchy (the co-owner of the " Sacramento Bee"), incorporated the Fair Oaks Development Company in 1900. These boosters shamelessly proclaimed Fair Oaks to be the “crown of the [Sacramento] valley,” in the “heart of California.” Together, in 1901, these two groups convinced the County of Sacramento’s Chamber of Commerce, which McClatchy’s business partners from Orangevale created and chaired, to build a bridge across the American River at Fair Oaks and persuaded the Southern Pacific Rail Road Company to build a railroad spur to the bridge. In the Summer of 1901 the spur and railroad station were built. The station was named Fair Oaks Bridge Depot. The spur to the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad Co. helped Fair Oaks farmers and fruit companies to prosper by enabling growers to distribute fresh fruit to a vast market.
Fair Oaks grew rapidly with the completion of the Fair Oaks Bridge and the railroad line. This first Fair Oaks Bridge, however, was washed out in a high water flood during the winter of 1906-1907. The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors had a temporary bridge built, but it too collapsed later that year. The Board of Supervisors then decided to have a ferry built to service the rail line across the American River until a new bridge could be built, 10 feet higher. By the end of the year the
Western Bridge and Construction Companyof Omaha, Nebraskacompleted the double truss bridge that still survives and services the community today.
The Fair Oaks Bridge’s usefulness, however, diminished with the construction of bridges at Watt Avenue (to the west) in 1959 and Hazel Avenue (to the east) in 1967, as well the widening of the Sunrise Bridge (less than half a mile west) in 1968. The Fair Oaks Bridge was closed to traffic in 1967 and became the property of the Sacramento County Parks and Recreation Department after serving more than fifty years as the major crossing over the lower American River. Parks and Recreation re-decked and painted the bridge in 1973 and opened it as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing that currently connects to the American Parkway Trail along the lower banks of the American River.
The Fair Oaks Bridge is an excellent example of bridge construction and technology advancement in the mid-to-late nineteenth century. It is a Pennsylvania Petit through Pratt truss bridge that extends nearly 500 feet across a wide bend in the American River and is the second oldest out of ten surviving bridges of this type in the state of California (behind the historic truss bridge in Folsom that connects to Orangevale, built in 1893). The Sacramento County Surveyor hoped to minimize the number of piers in this dangerous current that necessitated very long main spans. The Pennsylvania Petit specifically addressed such applications. The two 200’ spans were quite daring for their time. The bridge is also a rare example of the Western Bridge and Construction Company of Omaha that built truss bridges throughout the West but only rarely in California.
A truss bridge is any bridge whose individual members are connected in a triangular pattern. Truss bridges date back to at least the sixteenth century, although the metal truss bridge, such as the Fair Oaks Bridge, dates only to the 1840s. These metal truss bridges, especially the Pratt and Warren trusses, facilitated the enormous expansion of railroad lines in the late nineteenth century and were instrumental in turn-of-the-century highway construction as well. The trusses form vertical sides to the bridge, connected to one another by traverse beams, and by stingers and other members which support the deck. Each truss always includes a top and bottom chord, the major beams which resist the bending induced by stresses on the bridge. The top and bottom are connected by some combination of vertical and/or diagonal members, usually both, as well as by major beams at each end, called endposts.
Pratt truss forms
The Pratt truss form, invented in 1844 by Thomas and Caleb Pratt, is the most common truss form in California and the United States. This form first appeared as a “combination truss” built in wood and iron with wooden vertical members, chords, and endposts, and iron tension diagonals. The basic form changed to all-metal construction by the 1880s.
It retained the light metal diagonals but substituted heavier metal beams, posts, and chords for the wooden members. The most common Pratt type is the through truss in which the deck is carried on the lower chord, with overhead lateral supports connecting the top chords. Finally, the Pennsylvania Petit is a Pratt truss with a polygonal top chord and includes reinforcing sub-struts and sub-ties. Theses half-length members reinforced the diagonals and helped resist stresses.
The current Fair Oaks Bridge, built in 1907, is the third manifestation of an overpass over the American River and connects Fair Oaks to the greater Sacramento region. Once a major crossing over the American River, it has been bypassed by the construction of bridges at Sunrise and Hazel in the 1950s and 1960s. The bridge, however, continues to serve as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing and remains a cultural icon for the local community. On September 25, 2006, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places listed the Old Fair Oaks Bridge as a National Historic Site. The bridge successfully listed under the Register's criterion A (associative history) and C (architectural significance).
# Sacramento County Planning Department (SCPD), The Fair Oaks Community Plan, adopted by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, Resolution no. 75-12, January 8, 1975, 2.
# SCPD, The Fair Oaks Community Plan, 2; J. Murray Broadley, “Broadley Family Arrives in Fair Oaks with Father from Canada in 1897,” San Juan Record, March 6, 1958, in Selden Menefee, Patricia Fitzgerald, and Geraldine Fitzgerald, ed., Fair Oaks and San Juan Area Memories (Fair Oaks, CA: San Juan Record Press, 1960), 12; Howard-Wilson Publishing Company, Sunset Colonies: Fair Oaks and Olive Park, In the Heart of California / Farm, Field and Fireside and Western Rural, Colony Department (Chicago: Farm, Field and Fireside and Western Rural, Colony Dept., 1896), 1-2; Howard-Wilson Publishing Company, The Heart of California (Chicago: Howard-Wilson Publishing Company, 1897; reprint, Fair Oaks, CA: Fair Oaks Historical Society, Inc., 1995), 1-3, 35.
# Grant Vail Wallace, “Memories of Fair Oaks”, "San Juan Record", December 9, 1948, in Selden Menefee, Patricia Fitzgerald, and Geraldine Fitzgerald, ed., Fair Oaks and San Juan Area Memories (Fair Oaks, CA: San Juan Record Press, 1960), 85-86.
# SCPD, The Fair Oaks Community Plan, 2.
# Fair Oaks: The Early Years (Fair Oaks, CA: Fair Oaks Historical Society, Centennial History Book Committee, 1995), 12;.
# SCPD, The Fair Oaks Community Plan, 2; Fair Oaks: The Early Years, 12-13; Fair Oaks Development Company, Fair Oaks, California: The Paradise of the Fruit Grower, Health Seeker and Tourist. In the Valley of the Celebrated Gold-Bearing American River, Fourteen Miles from Sacramento (Sacramento: The Fair Oaks Development Company, 1900), 26-27, 38-40; Valentine S. McClatchy, letter to McAfee Brothers, Sacramento, CA, September 23, 1898, V. S. McClatchy Letter Books, September 8, 1898 to April 24, 1900, Eleanor McClatchy Collection, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California; Valentine S. McClatchy, letter to F. E. Linnell, Orangevale, CA, December 8, 1899, V. S. McClatchy Letter Books, September 8, 1898 to April 24, 1900, Eleanor McClatchy Collection, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California; Sacramento County Recorder Collection, Articles of Incorporation of the Fair Oaks Development Company, case file no. 828, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California; Sacramento County Recorder Collection, Articles of Incorporation of the Orange Vale Colonization Company, case file no. 505, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California.
# Fair Oaks: The Early Years, 13; Sacramento County Recorder Collection, Articles of Incorporation of the Fair Oaks Fruit Company, case file no. 963, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California.
# Emma E. Bramhall, “Young Chicago Man was First Doctor to Practice Here, 1902”, "San Juan Record", January 9, 1958, in Selden Menefee, Patricia Fitzgerald, and Geraldine Fitzgerald, ed., Fair Oaks and San Juan Area Memories (Fair Oaks, CA: San Juan Record Press, 1960), 8.
# Immer O. Rice. “Immer O. Rice Recounts Early Fair Oaks Buildings, Life Here,” "San Juan Record", January 23, 1958, in Selden Menefee, Patricia Fitzgerald, and Geraldine Fitzgerald, ed., Fair Oaks and San Juan Area Memories (Fair Oaks, CA: San Juan Record Press, 1960), 9; Fair Oaks: The Early Years, 17-21.
# SCPD, The Fair Oaks Community Plan, 2; Fair Oaks: The Early Years, 27; Sacramento County Recorder Collection, Articles of Incorporation of the Fair Oaks Library Association, case file no. 1883, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California; Sacramento County Recorder Collection, Articles of Incorporation of the Fair Oaks Civic Club, case file no. 2699, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collections Center, Sacramento, California.
# SCPD, The Fair Oaks Community Plan, 2; Fair Oaks: The Early Years, 40.
# SCPD, The Fair Oaks Community Plan, 2.
# William C. Dillinger, ed., "A History of the Lower American River", (Sacramento: Sacramento History Center, 1991), 72.
# California Department of Transportation, "Historic Bridges of California", (Sacramento: California Department of Transportation, 1990), 43-46.
* [http://www.douglascoulter.com/BridgeSigns/old_fair_oaks_bridge.html Photos of Old Fair Oaks Bridge]
* [http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/562886520uOUqoE Photos of Fair Oaks Bridge]
structure = Crossings
bridge = Fair Oaks Bridge
bridge signs =
Guy West Bridge
upstream signs =
downstream = Capitol City Freeway
downstream signs =
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