Rocks, Rails & Ranches

Clover Valley Bridge was built in English style

GPS coordinates: (N 38° 48.359’, W 121° 14.539’)
By: Gary Day, special to the Placer Herald
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Rocklin History Tour

This is the 16th installment of a 19-part series in which Gary Day takes readers on a tour of Rocklin’s historic sites. Find the sites yourself with a handy Rocklin History Tour booklet, available at the Rocklin History Museum, 3895 Rocklin Road. GPS coordinates were provided by Brian Ignaut. Short stories about Rocklin’s history are at

Clover Valley Bridge spans Clover Valley Creek in Clover Valley Park. It is the largest of the 12 granite bridges on the road that connected Joel Parker Whitney’s Spring Valley Ranch with Downtown Rocklin.

Whitney’s diary says he built his bridges in the mid-1880s while converting 40 acres of his 20,000-acre ranch into a baronial estate for his wife, Lucy, and their three small children. Total cost for the bridges was $6,826.

Whitney was enamored of British society and designed his bridges in the style of bridges in the English countryside.

The high quality of the workmanship indicates that the bridges were constructed by skilled stone cutters, but Whitney might also have employed Chinese laborers, possibly including some who had escaped from South Placer communities, including Rocklin, in the Chinese purges of 1877.

The source of the granite in Whitney’s bridges is unknown, although one old-timer remembered there might have been a granite quarry on the ranch near the northern end of today’s Whitney Oaks Drive.

From this bridge, Whitney’s road mounted the steep ridge to the west via a switchback and proceeded down the west slope. It bisected the granite boulders at the rear of today’s Granite Oaks Middle School, and then proceeded over relatively flat terrain to Whitney’s mansion, The Oaks. The road then headed for Penryn and Lincoln. The last two of the Twelve Bridges are on the Catta Verdera Golf Course.

The Oaks mansion was on today’s Knoll Court above Mansion Oaks Park. A plaque at the end of the court marks the spot.