FiftyFour: Pope/Chaucer

Continuing the ”Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long quest.

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Pope/Chaucer,   8x10, oil on board
San Francisquito Creek (Spanish for “Little San Francisco”) was previously painted in Twentytwo: The Tall Stick. The creek is quite historic, and in that blog post concentrated more on the history of the area, and wanted to paint it again.

The creek courses through the towns of Portola Valley and Woodside, as well as the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. The “Little San Francisco” and its Los Trancos Creek tributary (painted in Eight: Venture Capital State) define the boundary between San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, plus much of it forms the boundary between Palo Alto and Menlo Park. It is one of the few creeks in Silicon Valley which has remained largely in it’s original state with few channels and other man made structures.

in 1948, the wooden Pope-Chaucer bridge was replaced by the present concrete bridge. A number of similar bridges have also been built across the creek. The bridge itself is a choke point along the creek. During periods of heavy rains, the water level easily reaches to the top of the tunnel. In addition, with heavy water flow in the creek, debris tends to collect in front of the bridge, effectively creating a dam, which can result in flooding. In the 1998 El Niño storms, the creek burst its banks; resulting in an estimated $28 million flood damage in the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. You can watch a video of the flood here. It also flooded in December 2012.

[caption id="attachment_3380" align="aligncenter" width="300"]San Francisquito Creek near flood stage. San Francisquito Creek near flood stage.

Early on in this project I was contacted by volunteer citizens working to conserve the areas around the creek. There are plans to demolish the bridge and replace it with something more modern, and ugly. Several citizen groups such as Save the Oaks, and Actera are lobbying to replace the bridge with something that maintains the beauty of the arch such as an arch bridge in the shape and size of the original pre-1948 bridge.

This is the second bridge I have painted before it is potentially torn down. The first was the Willow Glen Trestle (Twenty: The Trestle Charity) which has now been, at least for the time being saved!

The creek was pretty dry when I painted it, but used a little artistic license to add a puddle.

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Here is a panorama shot in the middle of the underpass. I did not realize until I was there the tunnel makes a slight turn under the bridge.

A panorama from in the middle of the bridge.
A panorama from in the middle of the bridge.


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