The Henness Pass Road was originally a trail used in 1849. It started near Verdi, Nevada, crossed the Sierras at Henness Pass, and followed the ridge between the North and Middle forks of the Yuba River to the junction of other routes into Yuba and Nevada counties.
The original route of the road was pioneered by Joseph Zumwalt, a miner, looking for a way over the mountains. In 1852 it became a toll road.
In the 1860s, after silver was discovered in Nevada, the Henness Pass road was used as a route to the Comstock mines.
Mountain House was a stage stop and inn at the junction of the road north to Goodyears Bar and south to Forest City. It was built in 1849 and was a stopping place into the 1920’s. It had sixteen lodging rooms, a dining room, a bar, and a post office.
Forest City was at the forks of Oregon Creek. Established in 1852, the town once had a population of almost two thousand. It was a center of commerce for the surrounding area.
Webber Lake Hotel, built in 1860.
“Started on again, went 2 miles to Truckee Lake to left, one mile further passed a shanty and ranch to right. Then took a timbered hollow 8 miles and about as rough a road as we have had.” – Loring Samuel Comstock, 1855
Webber’s Hotel as shown in “A Rambling Sketch of Webber Lake” From the Pacific Rural Press, June 9, 1877
This bridge was built in 1862 by David Isaac Johnwood with lumber from his mill in Sierra County. It was part of the Virginia Turnpike Company Toll Road which served the Northern Mines and the busy Nevada Comstock Lode. Utilizing a combination truss and arch construction, it is one of the oldest housed spans in the west and the longest single span, wooden-covered bridge in the United States.
Pictures by Shann Rupp and Steve Shaw