Shown above, is the original bascule drawbridge over Corte Madera Creek. Photo: Caltrans.
Corte Madera Creek originates in the Marin County foothills, winds its way down
through Ross, Kentfield and Corte Madera, where it is joined by the tridal water
before entering the bay near San Quintin. Whaling ships and schoones used to tie up
at Kent and Ross Landings, but lumbering denuded the hills of trees and winter rains
sent the soil pouring down into the creek. By 1869, the creek was so silted in it was
difficult for ships to reach Ross anymore.
Some ships became stuck in the mud and never got out. A few were made into
permanent homes and were later joined by new homes built on stilts over the mud.
Together they were the subject of controversy for many years. Even today there are
some houseboats and stilt houses on the marshes at the mouth of the creek.
The first highway drawbridge to span Corte Madera Creek was a hand-operated,
wooden bascule bridge built in 1917. It was located just west of the existing railroad
bridge (permanently raised) and east of the present freeway overpass. Prior to its
construction, traffic crossed the creek three-plus miles to the west. This bridge was
removed in 1930, leaving only a short trestle section to serve as a public a fishing pier.
The new highway drawbridge over Corte Madera Creek at Greenbrae Junction in
c1930. The view is looking west. Photo: Caltrans.
This new $157,000 steel bascule bridge had an 84-foot moveable leaf, 44-foot
roadway and one five-foot sidewalk. Since the old bridge was a single-lane structure
, one can imagine the celebration when this one opened.
Once navigable for at least four miles above its mouth, by the time this bridge was
built, it was too shallow, for most boats that were big enough to need the bridge
opened. As a consequence, it seldom opened. It was removed on July, 29,1960,
shortly after the present high-level structure was opened for traffic.
The Northwestern Pacific Railroad drawbridge at Greenbrae — a familiar sight
to Marin County commuters
The original drawbridge at this location was constructed by the Tiburon and San
Rafael Railroad in 1884. The one shown in the photo above, was built in 1924
by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. Not having felt the weight nor heard the
sound of a train since the 1960s, this "abandoned" bridge is maintained in the
open position with its 61-foot leaf reaching skyward. Currently owned by the
Golden Gate Bridge District, it's future is uncertain.
In the early years, prisoners were brought here by train and transferred to horse
drawn wagons for delivery to San Quentin. This bridge's moment of fame came
as a bit part in the Clint Eastwood movie, Dirty Harry.
This c1917 photo shows the third and last drawbridge to span Gallinas Creek.
It was located within sight of the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael.
Gallinas Slough (later Gallinas Creek) is a mostly tidal stream that flows into San
Pablo Bay via the Santa Venitia Marsh, northeast of San Rafael.
In 1879, the San Francisco & North Pacific Railroad built a manually-operated
wooden swing bridge over the slough approximately two miles from its mouth.
It was replaced in 1911, by another wooden bascule bridge, also hand-operated.
By 1917, that bridge had worn out — not by opening and closing — but by the
trains crossing the flimsy structure. The 1917 bridge, the last one to span the
shallow waterway, was the steel counterweighted bascule bridge shown above.
Removed c1947, it, like the others before it, seldom opened for water traffic.
North Bay Bridges #1
Carquinez Strait (Martinez), Pacheco Slough (Martinez), Montezuma Slough (Chipps Island), Napa River (Napa).
North Bay Bridges #2
Napa River (Napa), (Brazos), (Vallejo).
North Bay Bridges #3
Napa River (Mare Island), Sonoma Creek, Tolay Creek (Sears Point Toll Road).
North Bay Bridges #4
Petaluma River (Grandview), (Black Point), (Haystack Landing), ("D" Street), (Washington Street).
North Bay Bridges #5
Novato Creek (Bel Marin Keys), Richardson Bay (Sausalito), Corinthian Inlet (Belvedere-Tiburon).