The Sundial Bridge

Redding, CA

We’ve been in Redding, CA for two days and have found it to be very warm (make that hot).  Redding is located at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley and has a Mediterranean climate, with an average high temperature in August of ninety-seven degrees.  We sometimes like to be above average, but not when it comes to high temperatures.

But, as people from the east coast always say, it’s a dry heat, so it is tolerable to be outside.  But, dry heat or not,  it is still very hot!

Yesterday we needed to do some shopping, but before stops at Trader Joe’s and the Wal-Mart, we stopped at the local visitor’s center to find out what to see in the Redding area.  As we approached the entrance, we saw a sign that brought back that hollow feeling that occurs in a teacher’s stomach in late August.

But the feeling soon passed and we continued into the visitor’s center to get information on the area.  The woman at the information desk was very informative and gave us some great ideas on places to visit.

The next morning we decided to walk about three miles down to the Sacramento River where there is a bridge that is a must visit site in Redding.  The Sundial Bridge is a bridge for bicycles and pedestrians that spans the Sacramento River and forms a large sundial.  The bridge has become iconic for Redding.

The Sundial Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge. This type of bridge uses a cantilever tower, set at a 42-degree angle and loaded by cable stays on only one side.  The bridge is 700 feet  long and crosses the river without touching the water, a design criterion that helps protect the salmon spawning grounds beneath the bridge.

The bridge’s deck is surfaced with translucent structural glass which is illuminated from beneath and glows aquamarine at night.

The support tower of the bridge forms a single 217 foot mast that points due north at a cantilevered angle, allowing it to serve as the gnomon (Word of the Day – the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow) The Sundial Bridge gnomon’s shadow is cast upon a large dial to the north of the bridge, although the shadow cast by the tower is exactly accurate on only one day in a year – the summer solstice, June 20 or 21. The time is given as Pacific Daylight Time. The tip of the shadow moves at approximately one foot per minute so that the Earth’s rotation about its axis can be seen with the naked eye.

The time is marked on a concrete semi-circle in half hour increments from eleven in the morning to three in the afternoon.

The path to the bridge goes down/up a steep embankment by winding back and forth in a series of switchbacks.  The arid climate can be seen by the dry brown grass along the path.  We had to weave our way up the hill to the water tower in the distance (in ninety-eight degree heat).

Looking back at the path from the top of the hill notice the haze in the distance.  This is smoke from the many fires to the east of us.  The biggest is the Ponderosa Fire which has burned over 28,000 acres so far.

Tomorrow the temperature is predicted to decrease from one hundred to a comfortable ninety-eight, so we’ll have to go see some of the sites in the area.  More on that later . . .

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2 Responses to The Sundial Bridge

  1. Marsha says:

    103…WOW Hope you two have LOTS of water!

    Did you find out why it says CLASSROOM? Seems strange, unless it is in an old schoolhouse.

    The Sundial Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges I have ever seen. I love that design. I’ll bet it was just lovely to walk across at night! What a grand idea to make it into a sundial. How cool.

    I just watched the news. Those fires are NOT getting any better. They showed firefighters getting pushed back from that Ponderosa Fire. The smoke is terrible. Be safe!

    Oh by the way…thanks for the word of the day….gnomon. I will try to use it in a sentence sometime today.

    • placestheygo says:

      Marsha, That actually was a classroom at the Turtle Bay Exploration Center which also houses the tourist information center. Since everyone back home went back to school, we thought we had to add that little touch. Haha!

      The Ponderosa Fire is contained to a point. It sits between and very near both of the roads to get to Lassen Volcanic NP. So we aren’t sure we will be able to visit.

      Take care. Pam

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