BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - The Honey Run Covered Bridge was one of Butte County's crown jewels.
Nestled in Butte Creek Canyon, the bridge stretched 240 feet across Butte Creek. Built in 1886, it was the first all-weather route for towns on the ridge to come to Chico. When a new steel and concrete bridge was built up stream in 1965, the covered bridge was closed to vehicles.
The bridge soon became a place to gather.
"We had end of life ceremonies, we had weddings, we had picnics," said Robert Catalano. "People could just rent the picnic grounds and people could rent the whole bridge for the weddings."
Erin Kennedy was married on the bridge in May of 2009.
"I might cry," Kennedy said. "It was pretty special to have your wedding in something so significant to everyone in the community."
On Nov. 8, 2018, the Camp Fire destroyed the Honey Run Covered Bridge.
Catalano said he was watching Action News Now when he learned the bridge was destroyed.
"I cried," he said. "That's all I could do. My home was also burned in the fire, so I've had to deal with both situations. And it's been tough. Especially when you're numb to everything that's going on."
After news of the bridge's destruction spread, it wasn't long before a community-wide effort began to bring it back.
Catalano said that if FEMA agrees to help with the rebuild, it will cover 94% of the cost. However, they are still waiting to hear about whether FEMA will be able to cover it.
Any day now we're supposed to find out if they're going to go along with the project or not," Catalano said.
Engineers said the cost of rebuilding the bridge is between $3-5 million. But if FEMA doesn't pitch in, Butte County would have to give the Honey Run Covered Bridge Association permission for the right of way. Fundraising would kick into high gear because not rebuilding the bridge is not an option, according to locals.
"The rebuilding effort is to bring the community together," Catalano said.
He said the goal is to rebuild the bridge as close to the original as possible, which is possible through a type of radar rendering technology called lidar.
The accuracy of the rendering is down to the sub-milli-meter. They also have the original plans, so the details are good and everyone's heart is into the project too.
"Every time I drive by I just take a deep breath and I just kind of go, 'OK, it will be there again. It's going to be rebuilt. We're going to make it happen,'" Kennedy said.
For information on the rebuilding process of the bridge, CLICK HERE.
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