Media Life: American River canyon featured in new book

By: Gus Thomson/Media Life
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AUBURN CA - Local history is firing on all eight cylinders in a new, picture-packed book about the American River canyon. ?American River Canyon,? by Rodi Lee and Michael Lynch, officially goes on sale in bookstores on Monday. But Lynch ? who has served more than three decades as a state park ranger in the Auburn State Recreation Area the canyon sits in ? will have several copies to sell and autograph at Saturday?s Gold Country Writer?s Faire at the Auburn Library. For Lynch, it?s another feather in the Stetson for a long-time canyon booster. He also recently authored a book on the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. And if you peek between the pages of Jordan Fisher Smith?s well-received ?Nature Noir? from a few years back, Lynch gets quite a bit of the ink. Rodi Lee is a retired State Parks education and interpretive specialist. Together, they?ve come up with a book that takes readers along for an amazing journey into the little written-about past of the canyon. The bonus for readers are the hundreds of photos in the 128-page volume that bring the stories to of the canyon to life. Bridges have been an object of fascination and study for Lynch. His efforts and those of others have resulted in a new interpretive trail surrounding the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge loop. With the centennial of the bridge this year, Lynch has helped orchestrate a real coup that will come to fruition in September. A locomotive once used on the Mountain Quarries Railroad from Auburn to the Cool limestone quarry is being moved from Clarksburg to Auburn and will be spruced up for its eventual placement on the century-old span over the American River. Bridges start things off So it?s fitting that ?American River Canyon? starts off with a chapter on bridges. In total, 24 major bridges have been built in the 50 miles of canyon the book covers, Lee and Lynch state. While seven bridges have no pictures to memorialize them with, the sometimes rickety remainder remind us that travel was at times a precarious experience. A Media Life favorite shows a Placer County Archives treasure that commemorates the disastrous day Gene MacKerricker drove his truck onto the Rattlesnake Bar Bridge and didn?t make it to the other side. While McKerricker managed to avoid injury, his 75,000-pound load sent the bridge into the river below. The crossing was never rebuilt. Lynch and Lee keep up the pace throughout the Arcadia Publishing book, with chapters on the Mountain Quarries Railroad and mine, gold mining, transportation and recreation. There is plenty of ground to cover in the 40,000-acre Auburn State Recreation Area and ?American River Canyon? adeptly tells its story right up to the recent, with information and photos on sometimes-bizarre filming activity and the debate over construction of an Auburn dam. The book, at $21.99, is available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at or (888) 313-2665. For more on the Writer?s Faire, see the Journal?s Things To Do. Media Life?s Gus Thomson can be reached at Also catch Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal?s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. And you can catch up Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.