While it’s hard to miss this bright, golden structure while speeding by on US 50, it’s what visitors don’t see that makes this bridge unique.
Constructed in 1935, the center section of this bridge lifts 100 feet above the Sacramento River, allowing large watercraft to pass below. Unlike typical vertical lift bridges, the towers were shrouded in steel to conceal the inner-workings. Beneath the gleaming facade are the counterweights for the 1,150-ton center span. Two 100 horsepower electric motors are all that is needed to lift the deck.
The Streamline Moderne style of architecture adds a sleek appearance to an otherwise utilitarian design. This type of Art Deco style was more commonly used in buildings and vehicles. The Tower Bridge is a rare example of this style used on a bridge.
Although it’s made of steel, in keeping with its Streamline Moderne styling, it was originally painted silver to represent aluminum.
The bridge is operated by the state and is designated as State Route 275. At 738 feet long, it is the shortest state highway in California.