John Vonderlin: It is a “Long” Bridge—Tunitas Creek

Story by John Vonderlin

Email John: [email protected]

Hi June,
Not too long ago I did a series of postings about the historical Coastside upgrades done on Highway 1, and Skyline Blvd., that I had extracted from a series of “Highways and Public Works” pamphlets I found at The one about the new highway and bridge in the Pescadero area in 1941, mentioned that the Tunitas Creek area upgrade and others were coming soon. World War II delayed all those projects. After hours of flipping through thousands of pages online I was able to find every article about the improvements from Davenport to Pacifica, except the Tunitas Creek section. I tried to locate the date of the Tunitas bridge’s construction online with websearches, hoping to better focus my eyestraining search, but had no luck, and finally gave up.
Well, a few days ago John Schmale sent me this great century old picture of the almost completed Tunitas Trestle of the Ocean Shore Railroad
and the nearby, nearly fifty year old, Long Bridge. My interest was rekindled and as I mentioned I visited Tunitas Beach a couple of days ago. I walked over the bridge


and discovered it hadn’t been built until 1962 and photographed the spraypainted stencil indicating so.


I also photographed the bridge from the north end that shows the 1962 span and the newer section to the south, constructed after the huge landslide in the winter of 1998. Lastly, in the canyon below I took this photograph of the old foundations of the Long Bridge’s last incarnation, built sometime after the one portrayed in John Schmale’s photo, and replaced by the 1962 span. It was located less then 50 feet west of the present span. (I think you have a picture of that incarnation, but I don’t)
With the date from the stencil, I returned to and went through 1962’s pamphlets, carefully, page by page, until I found a small paragraph in the May-June issue that stated:
“South of Half Moon Bay on Sign Route 1 (Cabrillo Highway), work is under way on a $592,000 contract between .5 mile south of and .3 mile north of Tunitas Creek. The work includes construction of a new bridge across the Tunitas Creek and improving the approaches.”


Unfortunately, after extensive searching I think that is the best there is. By 1962 there were so many big projects going on in the Bay Area, that a half a million dollar project out on the coast just didn’t rate page space, I guess. The attached ScreenShot of Bay Area projects in 1962 illustrates why.
There was also an interesting item in one of the 1962 issues I’d like to share. It was the 50th anniversary of the pamphlet, in one form or another, and they had a memorial story. It included these two 1912 photos from Issue 1, Volume 1, of the “California Highway Bulletin,” depicting work on the El Camino Highway in San Mateo County. My, how things have changed.tunitas7 tunitas6
In a previous email railroad historian/author John Schmale said:
Here are two of pics from Tunitas. The railroad trestle crossed over the county road on the north end. The county may have removed the overhead part of the trestle for safety reasons. Angelo,is this how you remember the structure?  I guess only about four of the five railroad trestle abutments remain. The auto bridge in this photo does not match old photos of the main road bridge which is upstream from this one. It had about seven trusses and was quit long, hence “Long-bridge”. I believe that it was rebuilt in 1914 by the state. I have a photo showing the long wagon-auto bridge as well as some Ocean Shore Rail cars on the Railroad Trestle. I suspect that the “long-bridge” may have been replaced by the Highway-one bridge, which has again been replaced by the current bridge.
What do you think? The other pic is the Tunitas depot in about 1938. It burned in around 1967 or so. I will look for the newspaper clipping.
John Schmale