5 May 2012
At its quarterly meeting in Alameda this past Thursday, the State Historic Resources Commission approved the applications of four historic Downieville bridges for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Nominations for listing historic properties come from State Historic Preservation Officers, from Federal Preservation Officers for properties owned or controlled by the United States Government, and from Tribal Historic Preservation Officers for properties on Tribal lands. In California, those listings are approved by the State Historic Resources Commission. The Commission is a nine-member state review board, appointed by the Governor, with responsibilities for the identification, registration, and preservation of California's cultural heritage. The nominations approved Thursday now go to the US Department of the Interior’s keeper of the national register for formal inclusion.
The Durgan Bridge, the Hansen Bridge, the Jersey Bridge, and the Hospital Bridge join eight other Sierra County sites and artifacts already on the National Register of Historic Places. Those sites include: Forest City townsite, Hawley Lake Petroglyphs, Kyburz Flat archeological site, Sardine Valley archeological site, Stampede archeological site, Foote’s Crossing Road, Sierra County Sheriff’s Gallows, and the Von Schmidt state-line boundary marker in Verdi.
With one vacant position, the SHRC approved all four nominations on a 7/0 vote with one commissioner abstaining. The nominations were pulled from the commission’s consent agenda at the request of Downieville Fire Chief Lee Brown who objected to the designation of the three bridges on safety concerns. Supervisor Lee Adams spoke to the commission in support of all four nominations, as did OHP staff, resulting in the approval of all four nominations.
The most immediate result of this designation will be the ability for state and federal funding to be used for the stabilization of the Hansen (Pearl Street) bridge without changing the design or structure of the 77 year old bridge. While the support foundation of the bridge will be replaced and approaches redesigned for increased traffic safety, the bridge itself will remain intact similar to the action taken on the Goodyear’s Bar bridge some 15 years ago.