Santa Barbara’s Mission Creek Bridge turned 128-years-old Tuesday.
The historic sandstone bridge spans the roadway between the Old Santa Barbara Mission and Rocky Nook Park.
Local historian Neal Graffy shared photos from the city’s archive collection which show the old, original wooden bridge leading to Mission Canyon.
“The significance of the bridge was, originally there was a wooden bridge going into the canyon and it would get rotted and wear out or fires could come down the canyon and burn the bridge out,” Graffy explained. “So, in April of 1891, a man named Roland Hazard, who lived behind the mission, designed a sandstone bridge to cover this area, and he hired stonemasons Joseph Dover and Joseph Woods. They started construction of the bridge and finished it October 22, 1891.”
Graffy said Hazard, along with neighbors, paid $2,250 dollars to have the stone bridge built.
“There’s been a few changes since 1891,” Graffy said. “The bridge was expanded so the west side has been added onto, making it wider. The stone caps along here have changed since 1891 but in its heart, underneath our feet, on the east side of the bridge here is the original stone work.”
Graffy and reporter Beth Farnsworth trekked down the hill below the bridge’s stone arch and wooden pedestrian bridge. When the lighting is right and if you look closely, you’ll see Dover’s and Woods’ names carved in the center keystone.
Graffy said their work is as solid as the bridge.
“This bridge has handled every storm we’ve had for 128 years, without a problem. I’ve never known it (water runoff) to go higher than 24-feet, 28-feet that this archway is. So, it was done well.”
Graffy said he knows that Mission Creek Bridge the subject of potential widening and change in the future but he said he’d like to see the city leave the bridge alone and leave it as is.