“A quarter-century of striving for one goal — a direct route east across the San Joaquin River — will be attained at 2 o’clock this afternoon as the new Las Palmas bridge is formally opened to traffic, and Patterson is staging a real party to mark the occasion.”
That was the top-of-the-page news in the Oct. 1, 1937, issue of the Patterson Irrigator, printed 75 years ago this week.
And it turned out to be a humdinger of a party. It was combined with Patterson’s fifth annual Horsethief Bend celebration, sponsored by the American Legion, and a crowd estimated at between 500 and 1,000 gathered at the west end of the bridge to witness the ribbon cutting by a queen from Mt. View, the halfway community between Patterson and Turlock.
Oh, Patterson had a queen, too — Betty Thompson — as did Turlock. The event was organized by the three communities.
The new route across the river cut travel distance for West Siders motoring to both Turlock and Modesto. Before the long-sought project, Pattersonites had to travel to either Crows Landing or Grayson to cross the waterway. The shorter roadway was billed as “a new gateway to Yosemite.”
Patterson City Attorney William Logan, who came here in 1915, was listed as the prime mover in obtaining federal financing for the bridge construction. He served as chairman for the day.
Cost of the bridge was just less than $15,000, with a similar amount going into the approaches at both ends.
After the ceremony, many attendees headed to the Patterson High School football field, where PHS and Ceres squared off in the league opener. The two teams had tied the previous year and shared the league championship, but this time the visiting Bulldogs posted a 6-0 victory.
Later that night and again Saturday evening, gambling and dancing entertained the Horsethief Bend crowd at the Legion Hall. The sponsor cleared about $250 on the annual event, the proceeds to be used for a new roof.
— Ron Swift, curator, Patterson Township Historical Society museum