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Wards Ferry Road

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Max Rockatansky:
Today I took a drive on Wards Ferry Road in Tuolume County.  Wards Ferry Road connects California State Route 120 at Big Oak Flat north to Tuolumne County Route E17 on the outskirts of Sonora via f a course of approximately 16 miles.  Wards Ferry Road is largely a single lane and crosses the Tuolumne River via the infamous "Graffiti Bridge."

Wards Ferry Road is one of the oldest highway corridors in Tuolumne County and once served as the primary road in the Big Oak Flat-Sonora corridor.  Wards Ferry Road takes its name from Joseph Ward who constructed a ferry crossing along the Tuolumne River in 1850 during the height of the California Gold Rush.  Eventually during 1879 Wards Ferry was replaced by a bridge over the Tuolumne River but the corridor largely remained not much more than a single lane stage route.

During the 20th Century Legislative Route Number 40 and Legislative Route Number 13 were added as State Highways which would form the basis of modern California State Route 120 and California State Route 49.  The emergence of the State Highway System functionally replaced Wards Ferry Road, but the corridor remained open to traffic and was eventually paved.  Wards Ferry Road was largely unaffected when the Tuolumne River was impounded upon the completion of the 1923 Don Pedro Dam.  Construction of New Don Pedro Dam in 1971 raised the levels of Lake Don Pedro which required the removal of the 1879 Wards Ferry Bridge.  A modernized span was installed over the Tuolumne River which given it's remote location has made it prone to being tagged with graffiti. 

Photo 1 is an image of the warning sign travelers headed northbound on Wards Ferry Road will see upon leaving Big Oak Flat.

IMG_8700 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 2 is an image of northbound Wards Ferry Road descending to the Deer Creek via a series of switchbacks.

IMG_8764 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 3 is a view of Wards Ferry Road along Deer Creek from the last switchback.

IMG_8771 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 4 is a view of the Deer Creek Bridge which was constructed on Wards Ferry Road during 1915. 

IMG_8782 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 5 is a view on northbound Wards Ferry Road which features one of the narrowest sections.

IMG_8798 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 6 is view from northbound Wards Ferry Road approaching the Tuolumne River.

IMG_8805 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photos 7-9 features views of the 1971 Tuolumne River Bridge (AKA the Graffiti Bridge).

IMG_8811 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_8818 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

IMG_8841 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 10/8836

Photo 10 is a view of the foundations of the 1879 Wards Ferry Bridge

IMG_8835 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 11 is a view of a truck which somehow ended up below the 1971 Tuolumne River Bridge (likely pushed).

IMG_8844 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 12 features the 1880 Morgan Chapel building which can be found upon northbound Wards Ferry Road climbing from the Tuolumne River.  '

IMG_8918 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

Photo 13 is a snip of the 1873 Bancroft's Map of California which depicts Wards Ferry Road connecting Big Oak Flat-Sonora. 

A by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr


My Wards Ferry Road album can be found below:

https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzRCnS

Max Rockatansky:
Apparently this happened last year.  That would have been the bus ride from hell considering that got through the 8 foot wide segment approaching the Deer Creek Bridge:

https://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/article_f1433370-eb21-11eb-bcde-f32e20322b4c.html

It seems ABC 10 did something regarding the history of Wards Ferry:

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-NiH2fxcdw

Max Rockatansky:
Found a photo of the 1897 Wards Ferry Bridge:

https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/87293/d3j12h/

Someone posted a photo of the 1879 span on Gribblenation in the comments.  The 1879 span was apparently destroyed by fire in 1897 when someone murdered the toll takers.  It looks as though the pilings of the 1879 bridge were reused for the 1891 span:

https://www.facebook.com/72868503020/posts/10158603370238021/?d=n

Alps:

--- Quote from: Max Rockatansky on May 29, 2022, 02:29:00 PM ---Found a photo of the 1891 Wards Ferry Bridge:

https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/87293/d3j12h/

Someone posted a photo of the 1879 span on Gribblenation in the comments.  The 1879 span was apparently destroyed by fire in 1891 when someone murdered the toll takers.  It looks as though the pilings of the 1879 bridge were reused for the 1891 span:

https://www.facebook.com/72868503020/posts/10158603370238021/?d=n

--- End quote ---
i will grudgingly go like that post and comment

Max Rockatansky:
A blog I put together on Wards Ferry Road:

https://www.gribblenation.org/2022/05/wards-ferry-road.html

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