|The Klamath River created a challenging impediment in
building an uninterrupted highway from San Francisco to the Oregon
border. This road, known as the Redwood Highway, was eventually opened
in 1923. In fact, the Klamath River crossing was the last gap in this
highway. The Klamath River Bridge, opened in 1926, closed this last gap.
The opening of the bridge, known as the Douglas Memorial Bridge, was a
gala event. The picture below shows the modern bridge looking north,
about a mile inland from the ocean and about 260 miles downstream from
the source of the river in the Oregon mountains. The gold colored bear
statues on each end of the bridge are familiar landmarks in the area.
Although the river looks peaceful enough now, the Klamath River
flooded seriously in 1955. This occurred on the night of December 21,
and was the first flood of its magnitude since 1861-2. As such, it was
regarded as a "hundred year flood."
Unfortunately, it was not a
hundred years until another substantial flood occurred again. On
December 22, 1964, the Klamath River flooded again, this time with the
river reaching a level 18 feet above flood stage, 5 feet above the level
of the 1955 flood. This flood washed away the original Douglas Memorial
Bridge on what is now Highway 101. A small portion of the old bridge has
been saved as a memorial and can still be seen, and is pictured below
extending from the river's south bank. The bridge was famous for its 8
ton California bear statues.
The bridge was named in memory of Dr
G.H. Douglas, Assemblyman, First District State of California.
Dr. Gustav H. Douglas was born in 1860 in New York.
served the state legislature from Del Norte County. He died in office on
27th March 1923 and is buried in the Old City Cemetery, Sacramento.