vcbs header image

Honey Run Covered Bridge Lost To Fire

Chico, California

WGN 05-04-01x

Google Map of California with state seal


On November 8, 2018 the Camp Fire, which has destroyed thousands of homes and taken many lives in northern California, also destroyed the iconic Honey Run Covered Bridge (WGN 05-04-01x). According to Colene Newton of the Honey Run Covered Bridge Association, "there was a total of 85 lives that were lost and 2 are still missing, 18,805 structures and 153,336 acres were destroyed".

Robert Catalano, President of the Honey Run Covered Bridge Association provides the most recent press release on the course of events and the efforts to rebuild the bridge:

The Honey Run Covered Bridge Association (HRCBA) would like to announce to all interested parties our way forward in rebuilding the Honey Run Covered Bridge, which was destroyed November 8, 2019 in the Camp Fire.

At a meeting January 9, 2019 among 25 individuals with various interests in the Covered Bridge, two decisions were made. First, we decided, working together, we would do all possible to rebuild the Bridge, maintaining its original design and appearance with necessary safety standard upgrades. Second, we agreed to endorse Butte County’s effort to seek Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. This seemed appropriate since Butte County had owned the Covered Bridge since its construction in 1887, with the adjacent Covered Bridge Park owned and managed since its inception in 1965 by the non-profit Honey Run Covered Bridge Association.

In April, 2019, Butte County informed HRCBA that FEMA would only reimburse costs of reconstruction, and only then if FEMA standards and requirements were met. Butte County has no funds for reconstruction, given other critical costs of infrastructure repairs due to the Camp Fire. Consequently, HRCBA has begun discussions with Butte County staff about obtaining
1) the County deed to the right-of-way across Butte Creek where the Covered Bridge had stood, and
2) eventual HRCBA ownership of the reconstructed Covered Bridge. This will require the Covered Bridge rebuild to be funded with private donations.

While awaiting a final County decision on these transfers, we are discussing with Butte County staff a temporary Easement Permit to begin hydrologic and geotechnical studies needed to construct new foundations supporting the Bridge pillars. We hope these studies will be completed this summer.

Quincy Engineering of Rancho Cordova, an experienced bridge engineering firm with strong Butte County ties, has provided to HRCBA, pro bono, outlines of a plan to rebuild the Bridge. Northstar of Chico has donated surveys. While we had hoped that construction might begin later this summer with expedited permits, federal regulatory agencies have determined that because the original construction of the Bridge footings do not meet current standards, a full review will be needed, delaying the start date for several months.

Meanwhile, Quincy Engineering has presented a cost analysis amounting to $3 million, an amount that could be offset with locally donated materials and labor. Additional expenses will be incurred from repairing and upgrading the adjacent Honey Run Covered Bridge Park. Already, $300,000 has been has come to HRCRA through merchandise sales, small grants, and pledges. HRCBA will continue to search for and welcome donations of funds, material and labor.

Destruction of the Honey Run Covered Bridge in the Camp Fire was a great loss. HRCBA believes that rebuilding the Bridge provides a unique opportunity for the communities of Paradise, Chico and surrounding areas to unite with common purpose and passion in restoring this iconic structure.

The bridge was built in 1887, covered in 1901, and "retired" in 1965 after being damaged by an oversize truck. Since then, public donations have funded the repair costs and maintenance of the bridge. It was known for its three separate roof lines, the center span being five feet higher than the end spans. In 1988 the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Honey Run was the last covered bridge in Butte County.

Fundraising efforts are well underway to rebuild much loved bridge. The Honey Run Covered Bridge Association has been very active in their fund raising efforts since the fire to raise money to rebuild the bridge. They have even produced items to sell from salvaged material from the bridge such as Christmas tree ornaments and bird houses. There are also shirts and mugs featuring assorted pictures of the Honey Run Bridge for sale Visit the Honey Run Covered Bridge website or the Facebook group for more information: Rebuild Honey Run Covered Bridge.

Honey Run Covered Bridge - Sue Graue
Photo by Sue Graue ©March 2012
Honey Run Covered Bridge with approaching flames
Photo by A California Fire Fighter ©November 2018
Courtesy of Trisha Henry
Honey Run Covered Bridge Remains - HRCBA
Photo by HRCBA ©November 2018
Honey Run Covered Bridge Interior - Sue Graue
Photo by Sue Graue ©March 2012
Honey Run Covered Bridge Remains - HRCBA
Photo by HRCBA ©November 2018
Honey Run Covered Bridge Remains - Dawn Marie
Photo by Dawn Marie ©November 2018


Editor's note: Thanks to Michael Bruhn, James Crouse, and Bill Caswell for bringing this to our attention. Special thanks to Colene Newton and Richard Catalano of the HRCBA for providing additional information and Trisha Henry for providing the striking picture of the approaching fire. Thanks also to Max George for helping us locate the source to the fire photo.

More information on the event can be found at Honey Run Covered Bridge Destroyed In Chico Fire

HTML5 logo