In November of 1989, as workers were finishing their repairs to the quake damaged section of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, an 18-inch metal sculpture of a troll was smuggled onto the bridge and welded into place on the structure. Known in popular culture as the "Bay Bridge Troll" the little figure has been the source of much media and public speculation now that a new replacement span is open and the old bridge is being demolished. In this book, writer and photographer John V. Robinson traces the story of the Bay Bridge Troll from its creation in 1989 to its removal in August 2013.
The details of the Bay Bridge Troll are curious: the troll was made by someone who didn't initially take credit for it, put on the bridge illegally, and removed without permission. Who has the troll now? Where will it end up? The eastern span of old Bay Bridge is history. But the troll remains, a mute witness to one of the world's great bridges.
Who, if anyone, really owns the troll? Like the Maltese Falcon from the old movie (another story of small statuette that takes place in San Francisco), can anyone be said to own the troll except by right of possession?
About the Author
John V. Robinson is an award-winning photographer and writer who is the author of eight previous books including Spanning the Strait: Building the Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge (2004), Bridging the Tacoma Narrows (2007), Bay Area Iron Master Al Zampa: A Life Building Bridges (2015), and Carquinez Bridge 1927-2007 (2017). He holds degrees from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Among his awards and fellowships are a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Field of Folklore and Popular Culture and a 2007 California Council for the Humanities recipient for his documentary photography. Robinson currently is a lecturer in English at California State University, East Bay, and Las Positas College in Livermore, California.
Table of Contents
1 October 17, 1989, 5:04 p.m. 17
2 Bill Roan, Mike Bondi, and the Bay Bridge Gets a Troll 27
3 "Fish" 43
4 A New Bridge, A New Troll 53
5 Finding the Bay Bridge Troll 61
Appendix I Petition to Governor Jerry Brown 77
Appendix II Photo Gallery of Bill Roan's Metal Sculptures 79
Appendix III The Twin Troll 87
About the Author 93