Home » Blogs » History Mystery #110: Missing Plaques on Stone Monuments
Image of the Cottonwood Creek Bridge sign.
There are some monuments on the Cottonwood Creek Bridge missing their plaques. Do you know anything about them? Let us know!

History Mystery #110: Missing Plaques on Stone Monuments

Submitted by Jack Butler, Historian, E Clampus Vitas Grub Gulch Chapter 41/49

Image of the monument missing its plaque. On State Route 145, between Road 33 and Road 36, is the Cottonwood Creek Bridge. There are two rock monuments, one is west-facing on the south, and one is east-facing on the north side. They are both missing their plaques explaining the history of their placement.

A blue marker at the base reads WPA 1941. This is probably a reference to the Works Progress Administration, a government program which ran from 1939-43 and put unemployed Americans to work building highways, bridges, etc.

But what did the plaques say? What happened to them? Who put them there? Will they be replaced?

If you have any information, please let us know!

Image of the Cottonwood Creek Bridge, with monument.









Follow-Up to History Mystery #109

For this mystery, Robert Casaurang, Hill’s Pride Inn, Knowles was of amazing help with the mail bags questions. These bags were from the river road, Road 400, and the names on the bags all lived along that route in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Every household in our area had its own bag for many years and the bags were placed in the mailboxes or hung from hooks on fences or posts filled with the mail for that home. Many old timers remember the routes names instead of the actual addresses.

Sometimes folks would catch a ride with the mail person as they dropped the bags to get home or head out to town. The mailboxes during that time could be ornate and well decorated, each neighbor trying to outdo the rest and the bags themselves could be decorated with embroidery or fancy penmanship.

Our museum also has Star Route mail bags donated by Anita Fulmer and family. The mail also came in similar bags on the railroad and there were hooks placed along the track so the mail could be easily hung to get to the post offices.

Stop by the Hill’s Pride Inn if you have more questions or want to chat about the bags, or come by the Raymond Museum. There is so much more to these simple bags than it seems.

Thanks to all who read our mysteries!! Sure appreciate your time and thoughts!!

Lynn Northrop


  1. Comments from SNO Facebook:

    Catherine Hubbell Hodges
    Some people

    Dan Kirby
    Could have been the dedication of Highway 145….
    May be an image of text that says
    ‘Madera County’s Big Day! Public Dedication of the MADERA- MADERA-YOSEMITE Highway Unit TOMORROW Sunday, May 25, 1941 10:30 Cottonwood Creek Bridge 8 Miles East of Madera YOU Are a Committee of One To Greet State and Highway Officials and Show Our Appreciation For This Fine Highway MADERA COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCT’

    Dan Kirby
    You might also find something in the California Highways and Public Works
    1937-1967 by Caltrans…there is a reference to the bridge in the index at https://dot.ca.gov/…/documents/ser/cal-hwy-index-a11y.pdf

    John Rigby
    The Golden Shovel from the groundbreaking of Route 145 from Madera to Friant
    No photo description available.

    Rob Stapleton
    John Rigby where is this shovel now? That’s a great piece of early Madera County history.

    John Rigby
    Rob Stapleton I think it’s somewhere in the museum.

    Marie Trudel
    Thugs, there everywhere ????????

    Jerry Waag
    Those plaques have been gone a long time there was a man’s name on them by the name of Franchi

    Dan Kirby
    Jerry Waag makes sense…Franchi dam is just up the road…https://www.usbr.gov/projects/index.php?id=171
    Bureau of Reclamation
    Bureau of Reclamation

  2. ok so the mystery question what was on the pillars at cotton wood creek ? so before the indian war agaist mariposa battlion solders led by major james savage who had a store on the fresno river for the gold miners during the gold rush in 1849 -1850. 2 men that was working in the store forn mr savage was killed one night and they blamed the tenayan indians. mr savage and some of the solders im not sure how many solders were with him but they were in the town of madera county talking to the sheriff.as they were getting ready to go back up the hill the tenayan indians were on ther way to the sheriff station in madera county to cliam ther innocencebut ther were afraid of leaving ther family’s home well they went to town because the solders was already informed that the indians killed the store workers well so nthey thought the indians had killed storeworkers so they were coming after the indians. so they were not gonna leave ther fsmilys home was to risky. so when the indians came to town they brought all ther familys wifes, kids, babies, the whole tribe nobody got left behind. well the indians figured cottonwood creek was close enough to town and they could hide ther familys ther til they went talk to the sheriff to claim they were innocent they didnt kill those store workers that it was a misunderstanding so they hid ther familys at cotton wood creek it was night time and back then they didnt have flashlights so it was dark well the indians went to town after hiding ther familys at cottonwood creek james savage and the solders who were wiyh him were on ther way back up the hill they heard indian language speaking and thought it was the men and attack the indian familys until the sun came up, and as the dark started to get light they relized they killed moms and children and the plaque were in memeory of those familys that lost ther lives that night and i wish they could replace the plaque for the children and wives that didnt have a chance maybe now we can give them a chance

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