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Pasadena History: Raising the Stony Creek Drawbridge

In the early 1900s, a 16-year-old girl raised the bridge 20 times a day.

Here is your weekly dose of some Pasadena history thanks to The Pasadena Peninsula by Isabel Shipley Cunningham:

The Stony Creek drawbridge was built in 1914 and, for a period, was raised 20 times a day by a 16-year-old girl.

“In 1914 the county built the first bridge over Stony Creek, a wooden drawbridge with wooden side walls,” wrote Cunningham. “Richard Phelps tended the drawbridge until his health failed. Then his sixteen-year-old daughter, Mildred Phelps (later Mildred Phelps Hahn) took over his duties from six a.m. until six p.m.

“Sitting in a small building beside the bridge, she raised and lowered the draw about twenty times a day; on Sundays during the summer, she opened the draw as many as fifty times a day. An excursion boat that came into the creek twice a day and many market boats, sailboats, and yachts prevented boredom.

“Though fewer boats passed and her friends did not spend as much time with her in the winter, she was not lonely because she used her free time to read newspapers and magazines and write and crochet.

“Her mother visited her often and always stayed with her after dark. Despite long, sometimes lonely, hours in the hot sun or bitter cold, young Mildred Phelps insisted she liked her work.”

Be sure to check back next Wednesday for more Pasadena history.

Marty Sparrow June 07, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Being a Pasadena resident for over 50 years, i have see a lot of changes. As a kid I can almost still remember the wooden bridge across Stony Creek. When my father in-law passed away, my wife & I started going through some of his old home movies and found some footage of the old bridge next to the new bridge being built. Man, where has the time gone. M.Sparrow
Kaitlyn Carr (Editor) June 07, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Wow that's great! Thank you very much for sharing.
John Holmes June 07, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Yeah, i agree great story. I've often wondered in these days of automation , state of the art cameras and motion detection, why we need that drawbridge to be manned 24/7? Seems like a great wasteof taxpayer money these days, not to mention a heluva a career for the bridge operator. Comments?

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