Aerial photographs from Drawbridge


My son Charlie Benton and I hiked out to Drawbridge on Sunday and I was able to take my first aerial photographs thereabouts. Drawbridge is an abandonded town out in the South Bay wetlands. For background information take a look at the US Fish & Wildlife Service brochure on Drawbridge (lovely cover shot).

Amtrak Marshliner

Trains appear suddenly in Drawbridge, you have to stay alert.

On this excursion I was able to launch the kite from the western side of the north end of Drawbridge to photograph buildings at both ends and the former salt pond on the western end of Station Island. I say former salt pond because the levee of Salt Pond A21 was breached this last spring and the pond has been returned to tidal flow.

Newly decommissioned salt ponds A21 (left) and A20 (right).

Drawbridge pond map

Snippet showing Drawbridge from the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Map

Drawbridge was once surrounded by open marsh but in the 20th century the Mallard II (and other dredges) converted wetlands into salt evaporation ponds at a slow, steady pace/ Eventually, they came calling to Station Island where the new salt ponds shaped Drawbridge in emphatic ways.

Station Island itself became the site of two gigantic salt ponds, with Drawbridge sandwiched between on a slender strand of remaining marsh along the railroad tracks….. At first a seemingly endless habitat with limitless resources, San Francisco Bay’s salt marsh was used, then exploited and degraded, and largely destroyed. The village of Drawbridge, which depended for its survival on those marshes, was abandoned.

Excerpt from Steiner, John, “Ghost Town in Suburbia.” Palo Alto Times. 9-10 Nov. 1967, Pennisula Living Supplement: (6).

It will be interesting to record this landscape over the next few years as some of the salt ponds, including those that flank Drawbridge (Salt Ponds A20 and A21) are shifted from salt production to management for habitat, flood control, and recreation. This is interesting territory – the reversal of a process that concentrated salt in still impoundments over decades – and it will be interesting to see how, and how quickly, the former wetlands accommodate the return of the tides.

Here is a Flickr photo set from the afternoon.

Head over to Flickr by clicking on any image or thumbnail. In Flickr you can click the all sizes tab at the top of the images to load higher resolution versions.

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