Stretching across the South Yuba River at what was formerly Nye’s Crossing (an early ferry crossing) is the Bridgeport Covered Bridge. Spanning over 229 feet in length, it’s one of the longest single-span, wood-covered bridges remaining in the United States. Perhaps even the world. It created a vital connection during the Gold Rush era and then the Silver Boom in Nevada. Now, hundreds of thousands of fans of old bridges from around the world visit each year to soak in its history. It’s no wonder it’s been nominated as one of the 5 most instagrammable locations in the county.
Gold Rush Inspired
In January 1848, James Marshall discovered gold on the South Fork of the American River. June of that year, John Rose struck it lucky at what would become known as Rose’s Bar, a mile south of Bridgeport. Within a few short years, thousands of people would strike their claim along the banks of the Yuba. Though the allure of striking it rich was rarely a dream come true, hardworking people armed with only humble metal pans took gold from the banks of the river for decades. It was during this time it became vital to connect the two towns of Penn Valley and North San Juan. And in 1862, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge was built.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 390
Erected by David Isaac John Wood with lumber from his mill in Sierra County, this bridge was part of the Virginia Turnpike Company toll road, serving the northern mines and the busy Nevada Comstock Lode. It utilizes a combination truss and arch construction and is one of the oldest housed spans in the west. It’s also the longest single-span wood-covered bridge in the United States.
Local Support Helped Ensure Future Generations Can Enjoy
Standing at its location for nearly 150 years takes a toll on even the best built structures. In 2011, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge was closed to the public due to safety concerns over severe structural problems. Luckily, through the dedicated members of the Save Our Bridge Committee, they were able to restore and re-open it on November 4th, 2021.
Where It’s Located
South Yuba River State Park is comprised of several separate pieces of land. The Historic covered bridge itself is located in the Bridgeport section, next to the visitor center. Approximately nine miles north of the town of Penn Valley.
What Else Is There To Do
This is one of the few places in Nevada County you can go gold panning. Each weekend throughout the summer months, docents at the troughs by the Visitor Center give step-by-step panning lessons. They also share stories about the history of our area and describe other ways the precious metal was extracted during the California Gold Rush, such as hard rock mining and hydraulic mining. Call (530) 432-2546 to check that gold panning will be available.
Spring Wildflower Hikes
When spring arrives in the Nevada County foothills, this part of the South Yuba River State Park is home to some of the most beautiful wildflower hikes in the county. Docents provide guided wildflower walks beginning in early March and normally continue every Saturday and Sunday through Mother’s Day at 11:00 a.m. The walks and blooms are at the whim of Mother Nature.
For more information about the bridge, please visit the South Yuba River State Park’s Website.