Bay Bridge Troll: The Fate of the Icon

Lacy LangleyLife

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As the Bay Bridge gets ready for some remodeling and replacing of some sections, people all over the world wonder what will happen to the whimsical troll that, from his perch, single-handedly keeps the bridge from collapsing? Will he (guessing on the gender, here) be thrown into the same scrap heap as his illustrious home?

Absolutely not, says Bay Bridge Toll Oversight Commitee Spokesman John Goodwin. The 18-inch steel troll, sculpted by Bill Roan and placed by iron workers after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, has his own Facebook page and loyal contingent in the Bay area. It even has a set of replicas that will be on display at the Oakland Museum of California.

Goodwin's bosses recommend in a whimsical white paper, "For Whom the Troll Dwells," preserving the troll in perpetuity, carefully removing the little creature during the upcoming demolition of the 1936 bridge and moving him to a troll retirement home. Maybe to have woodland creatures and unruly children hand-fed to them every day at 4pm before bed?

The community is split on the question of who should keep billy goats from crossing the new span. Should the old troll continue to guard it or should a shiny new one take his place? Some folks say that since there hasn't been an earthquake related shutdown since the troll surreptitiously appeared, that he should stay on duty. Others, like Brian Maroney, a veteran Caltrans engineer, would like him on the new span. "It's up to the community, but personally, I'd like to see the existing troll moved to the top of the tower on the new bridge."

Some say that an old troll should never be placed on a new bridge. "It has to be a new troll with no allegiance to the old bridge," said one high-ranking bridge official who declined to be identified for obvious reasons. It's a sensitive subject, after all.

There are many myths and mysterious accounts floating around, but according to the troll's Facebook page,The troll first came to the public's attention on January 15, 1990 when the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about the small figure of a troll complete with a spud wrench that had been welded to the iron below the road on the north side of the bridge. The article quotes official spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, Greg Bayol, as saying, "If we were asked, we would have said 'no,' I'm sure." But the iron workers didn't ask, so the state is stuck with the troll.

The trolls next home hasn't been decided just yet, but whether in a museum or on the new Eastern span, under no circumstances will it end up rotting away in the recycle pit with the rest of the metal that makes up the old span, promised Amy Worth, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairwoman and Orinda Mayor. She said, "That's not gonna happen." A collective sigh amongst the superstitious Bay area villagers filled the air.

image via wikipedia

Lacy Langley
Lacy is a writer from Texas. She likes spending time in the home office, homeschooling her kids, playing the didgeridoo, caring for her chickens (Thelma and Louise), Rolos, Christmas, and Labyrinth.