History Reduced to Rubble: Remembering the Honey Run Covered Bridge

Photo by Kurt Alexander

The Camp Fire took many victims as it spread through Butte County on November 8th, the most significant being lost lives of Paradise and Magalia. On top of that, the area lost many structures, including a historic landmark that has been a staple to the community for the past 130 years.

Honey Run Covered Bridge was constructed over Butte Creek in 1886. The rustic thoroughfare sat between Chico and Paradise over Butte Creek, and was the only three-span truss bridge of its kind in the United States. It was a monument to California’s Gold Rush and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It had been one of only 11 covered bridges still standing in California.

Though completed in 1886 for just $4,300, it wasn’t until 1894 that a covering was added to Honey Run Covered Bridge. Automobiles could be seen crossing the bridge up until 1965 when a car hit it causing serious damage and rendering it unusable. A new steel bridge just up the creek took its place.

Up until the Camp Fire, the covered bridge was used as a pedestrian footbridge, protected within Honey Run Covered Bridge County Park. Now, the Honey Run Covered Bridge Association is already planning on building a replica in its place to celebrate the long history of the original bridge.

A Rebuild Honey Run Covered Bridge group was created on Facebook with the goal of quickly constructed a bridge that would commemorate the original. There is also an online petition to help rebuild the bridge. The new bridge will not only serve as a monument to the area’s history, but also a monument to those who died in the devastating fire.

Some of what’s left of the bridge are the four slightly tilted piers that supported the span, stanchions that prevented cars from going onto it and a metal plaque placed by the Native Daughters of the Golden West when it was rededicated last year. Bathrooms and a pumphouse are still there, too.

It remains to be seen when the replica will be built, but the destruction of the Honey Run Covered Bridge sits as a reminder of how devastating California’s wildfires can be. The lives lost and structures destroyed are the most difficult to deal with. But as the Camp Fire continues to become a historic fire, it destroys history in the process.

Active NorCal

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