The Desolate Northern California Ghost Town That’s Being Swallowed Whole By A Marsh
The ghost town of Drawbridge has sat vacant since 1979 but now it looks like it’s disappearing forever. Just a handful of dilapidated buildings remain to remind us that this town was once home to actual people—workers, hunters, children, families. Located at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay, this ghost town is slowly disappearing. It’s sinking, actually. Literally. The marsh is slowly rising and taking over the remnants of long abandoned buildings. The story of this town is utterly fascinating and it’s something that everybody should know about—before it’s too late.
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Formerly known as Saline City, the ghost town of Drawbridge is located on Station Island in the southern region of the Bay Area. Looking at it today, you'd never guess that hundreds of people once called this place home. In fact, it's hard to believe that
anyone once lived here.
If you saw it today, you might not even recognize that Drawbridge was once a town. Just about a dozen buildings remain, all of which look like they might blow over with a strong gust of wind. Most notably, they seem to actually be sinking into the ground.
Located on a marshland, the town initially came to life in 1876. It was created by the South Pacific Coast Railroad. Initially, it was home to a single operator who controlled the railroad's drawbridges on the island. The railroad attracted tons of people to the island, mainly hunters, and a decade later it was designated as an official railroad stop.
The island's abundant wildlife made it a hot spot for hunting enthusiasts. At one time, ten passenger trains stopped in Drawbridge during a single day. On a busy weekend in the 1880s, thousands of people would visit the town to hunt in this prime location.
However, the town seemed destined for failure from the very start. Without any hunting regulations, the island's waterfowl population dangerously dwindled. On top of that, the bay was becoming polluted both from the sewage of nearby cities and Drawbridge itself. The animals were leaving.
The cherry on top of it all was the fact that the town was literally sinking into the marsh. People started moving away after the Great Depression and by 1955 the trains weren't even stopping in town anymore. The town was officially abandoned by its last resident in the late 1970s.
People haven't lived on the island in decades and wildlife has slowly been returning. Nature seems to be reclaiming the salt marsh and it's predicted that water levels will continue to rise 1.5 to 5.5 feet over the next century. Drawbridge's old wooden structures are crumbling and soon they will be gone forever.
Presently, the 80-acre property isn't open to the public in efforts to restore and protect the region's wildlife. However, the town's remains can still be seen from several trains which pass by it including the Altamont Corridor Express. Alternatively, you can view it from the Mallard Slough Trail at the Alviso end of Don Edwards Preserve.
Drawbridge is a reminder of nature's beautiful perseverance. The town's remnants will continue to slowly sink into the marsh, but the memory of Drawbridge will remain for as long as we can remember.
Did you know the story behind this incredible ghost town? There’s something both sad and beautiful about this disappearing town. Be sure to check out our list of
6 Crumbling But Beautiful Ruins In Northern California for more eerily gorgeous sites!