Amtrak rolling through Drawbridge, CA
On Sunday I made my eighth hike out to Drawbridge, an deserted town in the middle of South San Francisco Bay where the only firm ground was manmade land. This little town, once home to a couple hundred folks, was situated on Station Island along the first rail line to cross the Bay. It sprouted from the cabin of the bridge tender that looked after the railroad bridges on Coyote Creek and Mud Slough. At its height, surrounded by open marsh and sloughs, Drawbridge was a destination for hunters and fishermen and must have been a delightfully rustic place between its start with the railroad in 1880 until the Depression. By 1930 or so the South Bay environment was under considerable stress. Expansion of the salt evaporation pond network reduced tidal flow and scouring and as the marshlands disappeared so did the outdoor life that was Drawbridge’s raison d’être. The injury of marshland loss was followed by the insult of raw sewage from San Jose and by 1960 life in Drawbridge was untenable. The place was abandoned.
What’s left of Drawbridge is returning to the earth. Most of the buildings have been vandalized or burned to the ground. The survivors are sinking into the mud with missing roofs and collapsed walls. Still, it is a fascinating place to visit. With trains roaring through at 80 mph it is easy to imagine the good times that occurred hereabouts.