Recently, we drove south of Carmel 18 miles to Big Sur in search of adventure and
Bixby Creek Bridge, also known as Bixby Bridge or in earlier years, known as Mill Creek Bridge or Rainbow Bridge. Bixby Bridge, often referred to as the gateway to Big Sur, is one of the most photographed bridges in California and possibly the world. Designed by F.W. Panhorst, engineered by C.H. Purcell, and built by Ward Engineering Company, construction began in August 1931 and wasn’t completed until October 1932, even though the highway was not finished for five more years in 1937. Originally, plans were considered to connect Big Sur with an inland route. However, when engineers realized 890 feet of tunnel cutting into the Santa Lucia Mountains would have been required, that idea was scrapped and a bridge construction plan was put into place.
The bridge was built with concrete vs steel because it would reduce construction and maintenance costs as well as blend with the natural rock cliffs surrounding it. The
The bridge was originally named after a pioneer New Yorker, Charles H. Bixby, who traveled by wagon train to California in
Puzzle: Bixby Brige
Puzzle Pieces: 500 Pieces
In 1919, Captain Howard Sharpe purchased the Bixby Creek Canyon Ranch and built a dirt road from Rainbow Lodge which he owned to Bixby Landing and the mouth of Bixby Creek. Rainbow Lodge included several cabins which could be rented to tourists and he wanted better access for them. In 1930, part of Bixby landing was sold to the State of California for Highway 1 and bridge construction.
Years later, the California Coastal Conservancy sought purchase of Bixby Ranch, with the intention to protect its sweeping views, rocky shoreline, and rolling hills for public enjoyment and critical wildlife habitat.
For old photos of the Bixby Bridge Construction and building of highway one, see this link.
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