Saturday, August 15, 2009

Adventures in Urban Exploration: Drawbridge CA-The Bay's Last Ghost town

My friend Justin and i set out to explore an old abandon town in the south bay. The sun was beating down on us when we arrived in Alviso at close to 2pm. Parking next to the rail tracks we set out due north following the tracks into a horizon of salt flats and diked sloughs. About a half mile along the tracks we found a dead dog laying in the middle of the tracks with bullet holes in it. Not really sure what to think we continued, left and right of us were foul smelling sloughs, dried fields of packed mud and train debris. After several miles, several trains flying past we crossed a rail bridge onto Station Island and started to explore the abandon the buildings of Drawbridge CA.

Below is a historical description of the town courtesy of

"Drawbridge is an abandoned town on the outskirts of San Jose and is slowly sinking into the sloughs of San Francisco Bay. It was created on Station Island in 1876 and consisted of a single dwelling to house the operator of two drawbridges owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad that crossed the Mud Creek Slough and Coyote Creek Slough to connect Newark with Alviso and San Jose. It eventually grew into a small town consisting mainly of hunting cabins, hotels, and gun clubs (the San Francisco Bay, before salt evaporation ponds and sewage dumping, was a hunting and fishing paradise). During Prohibition, taking advantage of its location in no man's land between Santa Clara and Alameda counties, it housed numerous speakeasies and brothels. In addition, the police were reluctant to enter as nearly everyone in Drawbridge was armed.
Starting in the late 1920's, the surrounding communities began to pump fresh water out from the sloughs causing the land to sink. Two salt evaporation ponds around Drawbridge prevented the tides from cleaning the waters and the pumping in of raw sewage fouled what remained.
At its peak in 1926, Drawbridge had 90 private residences and two hotels. The train stopped five times daily. In 1979, the last remaining resident left, leaving behind a dozen or so wooden shacks."

1 comment:

RJ said...

Just came across your post as I was searching for Drawbridge...thank you for the photos, they are amazing. I'm so sad that it is now closed to the public (and part of a national refuge), so I'm grateful that you captured it before it is gone forever.