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calendar   Tuesday - July 17, 2012

Tenacious As A Terrier

I Found It: One Parker, Pinned




Oh boy! Yay me! I’m doing the happy dance here.

(all pictures link to much larger versions)

It took me just over a week to locate the bridge I’d seen on TV and posted about here. The one I’d seen on the final episode of the TV show House. Man what a bunch of work it’s been. But I’m 100% certain I’ve got the right one. Not only does it match in style, size, color, and location, it’s right around the proper age. Best yet, recent photos of the bridge match what I saw on TV right down to the Rustoleum™ marks, the turnbuckles, the surrounding trees ... it’s a perfect match. SCORE !!!


What I Saw On TV:
image image image image


What I Found Online
image image image image

So what and where is this thing? It is the Rinconada Las Pilitas Bridge, a pinned Parker truss bridge built in 1917 by the Gutleben Brothers bridge company of San Francisco. The bridge is located in San Luis Obispo County California. It crosses the Salinas River about a mile northwest of Santa Margarita Lake. The bridge underwent a bit of restoration and got a new paint job in 1996. Since a new concrete bridge was built just 150 feet away, the old Parker is no longer open to car traffic and is reserved for hikers and bikers. And the occasional TV show motorcycle it seems.

decimal lat/long: 35.348784,-120.513052

Status:  Closed to vehicles, roadway has been realigned with new bridge
History:  Built 1917
Builder:  Austin F. Parsons (County Engineer Designer)
Design:  Pratt Through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 149.9 ft.
Total length: 231.0 ft.
Deck width: 15.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.9 ft.
Recognition:  Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called:  Rinconada Las Pilitas Bridge

“Las Pilitas Road is only one lane wide and climbs over a rocky spur. The land turns distinctly drier and there are signs of recent bush fires. After reaching a crest the road then descends quickly to reach the Salinas River ... containing the outflow from Santa Margarita Lake. Crossing the river is an elegant metal lattice bridge constructed in 1917. The bridge is now reserved for cyclists and walkers ... vehicles use a new concrete bridge some 50 meters upstream.”

There does seem to be a little confusion on when the thing was built and by whom, which is not unusual for bridges this old

The Salinas River Bridge was formerly identified as Bridge No. 49-106. It was designed by San Luis Obispo County Surveyor A. F. Parsons and constructed by the Henderson Bridge Company in 1914. A bridge rating sheet completed in 1985 as part of Caltrans statewide Historic Bridge Inventory described it as an “excellent example of its type in its region, and [it] has served as a locally important crossing of the Salinas River for more than seventy years.”

Parsons seems to have worn several hats at the county government, but I doubt he was a bridge designer. He may have specified a bridge of a certain size and type, but that’s about it. And it’s still standing 96 years later, so it seems he chose well. Somewhere I read that WWI got in the way, and work on the bridge was halted until the war was nearly over. That could just be rumor, although during the war there was such a steel shortage that ships were made out of concrete.

The first “official” public road coming into Las Pilitas canyon was surveyed in 1886 by then county surveyor E. Carpenter. This dirt road forded the Salinas River at a crossing very close to the spot where the present new million dollar concrete bridge exists today.

This road was officially called the “Rinconada and Pilitas Public Road”. ... The Salinas River crossing proved to be hazardous due to a soft channel bottom and high water during winter. So, in 1898 a group of early resident pioneers petitioned the board of supervisors for a new road with a better crossing location farther upstream where the riverbed was rocky. ... The second road (1898) was surveyed by then county surveyor V. H. Woods. This road was proposed as a 60 foot wide dirt road, and the new crossing was an apparent improvement. Then, in 1916 plans were made to bridge the river for year-around access, and a steel bridge was designed and engineered by then county surveyor Austin Frank Parsons ... In 1916, along with the steel bridge, Parsons also surveyed a new (third) road on higher ground and westerly of the previous two roads. This is the present road today (2010).
...
In 2006, the present poured concrete bridge was built at a cost of over one million dollars. The funds came from a federal bridge grant established only for really old bridge replacements. When the county received the grant funds, they then wanted to use the money for other bridge replacements that they considered more urgent, but the Las Pilitas had the only bridge that met the grant requirements, and so we got our new bridge.

image

Several things made it quite difficult to locate. While there is a National Register of Historic Places, the database is very hard to use, and worthless if you don’t already know the name or location of what you’re searching for. Your tax dollars at work! I searched through hundreds of Parker truss bridges at the various bridge web sites, like bridgehunter.com. No luck. Finally I tried looking for some kind of national bridge registry. There is not a government one, but I did find http://nationalbridges.com/ . Cool. Knowing that House was filmed in LA, I plugged in CA for the state, chose “Through Truss” as the bridge type, “steel” as the material, and guessed a Status of “Structurally Deficient” because the bridge I was looking for was around 100 years old. Back came the results, lots of them. So I sorted them by descending size, knowing that the House bridge was at least 120 feet long, and then went down the result looking for old ones. “Salinas River” was the 5th entry, so I opened up a Google tab and searched for “Salinas River Bridge”. Las Pilitas was the first hit, and for images ... the first one shown was a Parker. I had a feeling right then that it was Happy Dance time, but it took opening a number of the other resultant web pages to find my ultimate jackpot: pictures taken this spring of the bridge showing the same Rustoleum™ spray marks on the green paint. Woo hoo!!! Pure. Adrenaline.

Then I went back to bridgehunter and found that they had listed the bridge as a Pratt truss, and didn’t have any pictures. That isn’t exactly wrong, because this is a Pratt truss bridge. One with polygonal top chords ... which makes it a PARKER.

Grrrr.  LOL

See More Below The Fold

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/17/2012 at 03:47 PM   
Filed Under: • Bridges •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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