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portrait G. Donald Bain
Redwood Highway
"The Slab" sidehill viaduct on the old Redwood Highway at Bridge Creek above the South Fork of the Eel River, Mendocino County, California, USA
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Copyright © 2010 G. Donald Bain, All Rights Reserved
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In 1962 my family made the long drive from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, Washington, to visit the World's Fair. It was a memorable trip, I was twelve-years-old and I still remember every minute and every mile of it. My father knew the geography of the west and my mother planned meticulously—it was the prototype road trip that I have been repeating ever since.

Late on the first day we drove north down the South Fork of the Eel River, a dramatic steep-sided canyon where redwood groves alternated with cliffs and landslides. This stretch of US Highway 101 (the Redwood Highway) has changed but little in the last 48 years. Most of the rest of the highway has been widened to four lane freeway, but the intractable landslides between Leggett and Garberville have mostly stymied the road builders.

One of the features I remember clearly was the sidehill viaducts, like bridges but clinging to the side of a cliff rather than crossing a valley or river. One by one these have been replaced by massive roadcuts and bridges, and the dramatic cliff-hugging stretches bypassed. The old concrete structures with their elegant railings remain, but unnoticed by the modern traveler and forgotten by most who once drove them.

The most dramatic of all even had its own name, a two-hundred-yard stretch south of Bridges Creek known as "The Slab". It was built in the 1920s and not abandoned until the late 1960s. It is only a-lane-and-a-half wide, and has a two-hundred-foot drop to the river. I enjoyed walking and photographing this once famous but now forgotten place.

Location Map Geographic Coordinates:
Latitude: 39° 54' 32" N
Longitude: 123° 45' 26" W
Elevation: 256 meters
Precision is: High. Pinpoints the exact spot.

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June 23, 2010, 9:00 am

Photographed with an Olympus E-3 digital SLR with an 8mm Zuiko fisheye lens, on a Nodal Ninja VR mount, Really Right Stuff ballhead, and Velbon carbon-fiber tripod. Stitched with PTGui Pro 8.3 on a Macintosh Intel Core 2 Duo iMac, retouched with Photoshop CS3

More VR panoramas of California's Redwood Highway in Don Bain's Virtual Guidebook to the North Coast and North Coast Ranges.

Don Bain's Virtual Guidebooks, covering western North America from Mexico to the Arctic, Hawaii to the Great Plains, over 7,000 VR Panoramas.

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