Pioneer Bridge and Stone Memorial - Siskiyou County, CA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 41° 48.553 W 122° 35.573
10T E 533817 N 4628674
Quick Description: Pioneer Bridge and a stone memorial were erected in 1931 as a tribute to the stage drivers along this pass in the late 1800s. This portion of the highway is along the old Highway 99 route between Yreka & Hornbrook and contains five historic bridges.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 2/16/2017 4:38:18 PM
Waymark Code: WMV3CX
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 3

Long Description:
Located at the east end of the historic Pioneer Bridge and just off the road is a stone monument comprising a bronze plaque that reads:

DEDICATED TO THE
MEMORY OF PIONEER STAGE DRIVERS
1854    •    "KNIGHTS OF THE WHIP"    •    1887

TO THE PIONEERS OF STAGE AND TEAM • TO YOU WHOSE COURAGE LED YOU ON • THROUGH TRIALS AND HARDSHIPS FOUGHT AND WON • TO YOU WHOSE FAITH IN GOD AND MAN • INSPIRED THE WORK OF THIS GREAT SPAN • WITH PRIDE AND HOMAGE EVER TRUE • "THIS BRIDGE" WE DEDICATE TO YOU

ERECTED AUGUST 29, 1931

The actual span of the old stage road and old highway prior to Hwy 99 that the stage drivers and later autos used is along Shasta River below the bridge and still a functioning road today. Pioneer Bridge looks to have had some newer railings installed but overall, the bridge retains its original look as it spans Shasta River far below.

The Siskiyou County Historical Museum contains a photo of Pioneer Bridge from the 1930s here. And if you want to see a neat aerial drone video of Pioneer Bridge, you may watch it here.

I also found a really neat article highlighting the history of this stretch of road leading up to the construction and dedication of Pioneer Bridge and it reads:

Ribbons of Highway
June 2015
By Gary Vandewalker

Fred Tice held six leather ribbons and with the crack of a whip could turn 24 hooves with precision around the curve of mountainside. His brave passengers peered through curtained windows at the churning river below the steep cliffs. When he turned 21, the baby faced man with curly, oiled dark hair took up a whip and would live to be one of the last surviving stagecoach drivers of California and Oregon. One of his final turns at the ribbons, as the reins were called, was in 1931, when he drove his six-horse team across the Pioneer Bridge in California for its dedication.

Interstate 5 passes over the Siskiyou Mountains, weaving through the passes to the town of Yreka. Just north of the city is Highway 263, once part of Highway 99, the main throughway in the mountains. When I-5 replaced Highway 99, a short portion of 99 was bypassed by cutting the new Interstate high above into the hillside. The remaining road below was renamed Highway 263 and held a masterpiece, the Pioneer Bridge.

The steel cantilever bridge traverses the Shasta River Canyon. Looming 267 feet above the river, the Sacramento State Capitol building could be tucked underneath. Its construction eliminated the need for more than two miles of stage road, and a necessity of fording the river.

The original road and fording followed the paths laid down by Native Americans, then traveled by trackers. They were beaten down by pack teams of 70 mules, bringing supplies to the mining towns south of the California-Oregon border. Stagecoaches and their drivers soon rutted the road while carrying their passengers.

While running the ribbons, drivers carried a hickory or oak handled whiplash. The drivers played the eight-foot leather lash like an instrument. It turned in the air, making sounds telling the horses what to do. The lash never touched the horses. A whipped horse meant the driver was no longer employed. Their driving and whip skills earned them the title of “Knights of the Whip,” inspiring young boys to dream of their own teams.

The roads the Knights traveled became the modern highways and interstates. Many parts of the routes settled into two-lane country drives, often named “Old Stage Road.” The stages disappeared around 1887 when the railroad connected Oregon and California. The river ford and a new road built in 1914 were replaced by a new highway and the 794-foot bridge in 1931, connecting the two states with uninterrupted roadway.

For the dedication of the Pioneer Bridge, the governors of California and Oregon drove north and south, meeting at the bridge. Now silver haired, Fred Tice took up his whip and ribbons and drove a team of horses with stagecoach across the span. A bronze plaque commemorated the August 29 afternoon, fixed to a granite boulder at the northeast corner. Words were inscribed in honor of Fred Tice and all who had driven this path with him.

“To the pioneers of stage and team, who blazed this trail and crossed this stream, to you whose courage led you on, through trials and hardships fought and won, to you whose faith in God and man, inspired the work of this great span, with pride and homage ever true, ‘this bridge’ we dedicate to you.”

State: California

Nearest City: Yreka

Type: Structure - bridge or other historic infrastructure

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