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First Street Bridge Over Napa Creek

by Al Edmister

A Bridge Preservationist in Napa County

First Street Stone Bridge in 1935

The1862 First Street double arch stone bridge over Napa Creek in Downtown Napa, CA was dismantled in November of 2004 to make way for a new wider & higher concrete bridge as a part of a county wide flood control project. Built during Civil War days by James Warner, the bridge survived flood waters, earthquakes, neglect and vehicle abuse but it could not survive “progress.”

While the stone parapets were removed in 1950 and concrete sidewalks added it was   still considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, (The sidewalks were allowed to get lost during dismantling as were the various attached pipes.)

A campaign to save only it got as far as having it documented and then dismantled for reconstruction in the future at a “preferred location,” still over Napa Creek just 150 feet up stream where it would serve as a pedestrian bridge providing access to the plaza behind our 1876 restored Opera House.

The stones are all tagged and await flood control work getting to that part of the project which could be as soon as 2007. Rebuilding also awaits its own funding as it will be considered a “betterment” and not eligible for district monies. So, what remains for this restoration to be successful is both financing and public support. (According to Alvin (Al) Edmister’s obituary, he died on November 1, 2008, at the age of 69.  “His book (entitled Bridges of Napa County, lists over 400 bridges with photos and statistics documented) can be found at the Napa Valley Firefighters’ Museum, Napa Landmark Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation of San Francisco....”)

Dismantling of First Street Stone Bridge - Photo #1 Dismantling of First Street Stone Bridge - Photo #2 Dismantling of First Street Stone Bridge - Photo #3
Dismantling of First Street Stone Bridge - Photo #4 Dismantling of First Street Stone Bridge - Photo #5  
The Dismantling of First Street Stone Bridge

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