There are about 12 covered bridges in California. And like much else such as the coast redwood, giant sequoia, bristlecone pine, and Mount Whitney, these bridges contain a superlative. Now as I teach my fourth graders, a superlative contains “est”as a suffix, and shows that something is without comparison. Such as tallest, largest, oldest tree or the tallest mountain in the lower 48.
California contains the longest single span covered bridge in the United States. The Bridgeport Covered Bridge spans 229 feet across the South Yuba River.
I set up my camp chair on Family Beach and using the waters of the chilly South Yuba River, I painted the span. The beach was lacking families on this December morning and an American dipper kept me company as this amazing aquatic songbird dove in the wintery rapids of the river as if it were a summer’s day. The dipper provided entertain while I waited for my washes to dry. I even included Muir’s favorite bird in the sketch.
I have been familiar covered bridges from an early age. The covered bridge in Paradise Park (featured image), near Santa Cruz, has been the only way to cross the San Lorenzo River without getting wet. This bridge was originally built for the California Power Works which formerly occupied the site. The 180 foot span was built in 1872. Unlike the Bridgeport bridge, this bridge is open to foot and automobile traffic making it a bridge in continual use for 143 years.