By the late 1950's, the Western Pacific Railroad had a problem. Their original mainline route east of Oroville, California was about to go under water. With the construction of the Oroville Dam, the railroad needed to find a new path through the foothills of Butte County. The solution included an entirely new rail line between Oroville and Intake; a route that would require the construction of multiple bridges, tunnels and sidings.
The project, known as the "Oroville Line Change", would take 13 years to complete and cost the State of California $45 million. One of the most impressive accomplishments of this project was the completion of the North Fork Bridge. Located at the far eastern edge of the line change, the North Fork Bridge connected the original route through the Feather River Canyon with the newly constructed 8,856' Tunnel #8.
With a unique open-spandrel reinforced concrete arch design, the North Fork Bridge stands out amongst modern railroad infrastructure. The entire bridge spans nearly 1,000' and stands approximately 200' above the Feather River. It was once believed to be the longest reinforced concrete rail bridge in the United States.
Today, the North Fork Bridge is still a critical piece of infrastructure along the Union Pacific Canyon Subdivision. In this shot, BNSF 5862 leads an eastbound BNSF freight train across the North Fork Bridge on a cool summer morning. The hills in the backdrop show scars from last year's devastating Camp Fire, which tore through this remote part of Butte County while also impacting the Town of Paradise, Concow and Magalia.