How Drawbridge is drowning — and what it means for our future

Aerial view of Drawbridge, California

Aerial view of Drawbridge, California. Credit video / drone footage by Jane Tyska for The Mercury News / East Bay Times

Lisa M. Krieger, a science writer covering research, scientific policy and environmental news, writes in today's Mercury News:

From birth, Drawbridge was an unlikely community on an impossible site, just feet above sea level. A century ago, the island town held 90 homes, hotels and cabins, with hunting so bountiful that dead ducks served as currency at its gambling tables. Now — in a rare act of reverse colonization — civilization is ceding to the elements in this windswept marsh. “It’s drowning… a memorial to past human aspirations and a memorial to failure,” said Glen MacDonald, a UCLA professor of geography.

Read on to find out how rising seas and sinking muds have doomed the once-vibrant ghost town of Drawbridge in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Ceal Craig, a long time volunteer tour guide, a member of the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society and co-author of an upcoming book about Drawbridge titled Sinking Underwater: A Ghost Town’s Amazing Legacy provided a lot of background research to The Mercury News reporter Lisa M. Krieger.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service conducts a Drawbridge Van Excursion led by Ceal Craig on a periodic basis. Nestled on an island in the salt marshes of South San Francisco Bay, the town of Drawbridge once boomed and is abandoned today.

Attendees meet at the Environmental Education Center, 1751 Grand Blvd. in Alviso, to start with a slideshow of the town’s history before making the trip to view it across Coyote Creek. Attendees do not visit the town itself. Tour guide Ceal Craig takes attendees to the closest spot that one can legally view Drawbridge through spotting scopes at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

If you are interested in a tour of Drawbridge, the Wildlife Society has one coming up on Saturday, August 25, 2018 from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm (reservations at

The program is intended for adults and space is very limited. Reservations are essential. For more information call 408-262-5513 extension 104.

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