No Hands Bridge

The Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge, more commonly known as the "No Hands Bridge", crosses the American River just downstream from the confluence of the North and Middle forks. It was originally built as part of the Pacific Portland Cement Company's 7-mile railroad that connected its limestone quarry in Cool with the Southern Pacific line in Auburn. At the time of its construction in 1912, the No Hands Bridge was the longest concrete arch bridge in the world.

Today, the No Hands Bridge is the oldest bridge still standing on the American River. It has withstood many flood events, including the 1964 failure of the Hell Hole Dam that took out two modern bridges upstream, and the Valentine’s Day flood of 1986 that destroyed a 250-foot coffer dam two miles downstream.

The colloquial name “No Hands Bridge” was coined in reference to equestrian Ina Robinson and her legendary stunt of dropping the reins as she rode across the guard rail-less bridge during the Tevis Cup Trail Ride, an equestrian race from Tahoe to Auburn. Guard rails have since been added to the bridge, but the "No Hands" moniker lives on in perpetuity.

The photo was taken from just downstream of the bridge, looking upstream toward the confluence. It was captured in late February (before the runoff), when the flows were relatively low and gentle.