There were two urban landmarks that featured in this scene. The first was the Corte Madera Creek railway bridge (the “Dirty Harry trestle”) that Harry jumped onto the school bus from. The second was the Hutchinson Co quarry facility. The quarry is long gone and unfortunately so is most of the bridge.
The Corte Madera Creek railway bridge was reportedly built in 1923 by the Northwestern Pacific railroad (Source) . The bridge was substantially demolished in two phases. In 2003 the section that spanned East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard (the section that Clint Eastwood jumped from) was removed. In 2014 most of the remaining section between East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and the Corte Madera Creek was demolished. In 2016 a new pedestrian-bike bridge opened where the “Dirty Harry trestle” used to be.
The new bridge lets you do two things; Firstly, you can stand above East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at the spot where Clint Eastwood jumped from; Secondly, you can look at the remaining section of the original bridge.
In the 21st century, one the least recognisable locations from the movie is Greenbrae, California, or more particularly, East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Part of this area is known as Greenbrae, which is an unincorporated area of Marin County, while the rest of the city limit is in Larkspur City. The scene starts at the Greenbrae interchange, which is where the Redwood Highway (101) exits east onto East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
The area is pretty, there are plenty of walks along the Corte Madera creek, and in Spring the wildflowers are in bloom.
In 1971, it was along this semi-rural stretch of boulevard that Harry jumped from the railway trestle onto the passing school bus before it crashed into the Hutchinson Co. quarry. He then chased Scorpio through the quarry before shooting him at the quarry lake.
The entire scene from the railway trestle to the quarry takes place in an area less than 1 mile long.
Since 1971, the entire district has been developed and the quarry has been levelled by a shopping mall, apartments and a Courtyard Marriott hotel.
Although so much has gone, some remains of the railway trestle Harry jumps from, and the cliffs that once surrounded the lake, can still be seen. A road, built around where the lake was, is named Old Quarry Rd.
If you want to visit the trestle’s remains the closest physical address is 12 East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Larkspur CA. That building can also be seen in the film.
The portion of the bridge that Harry jumped from was demolished in 2003 so that the road could be widened. A county Supervisor who voted to keep the bridge intact pointed out that Larkspur City‘s own studies showed that the road could be widened without demolishing the bridge.
In April 2016 a new bike and pedestrian bridge that follows the line of the “Dirty Harry trestle” opened. The new bridge provides a great view of the remaining section of the “Dirty Harry Trestle”:
So while it’s disappointing to find the trestle largely gone, it’s great to discover a portion is still there, and you can walk right up to it, smell the creosote, and explore.
Traffic at the Greenbrae interchange is now very busy, and there were plenty of school buses passing by the day I went there, including this one that had perfect timing (below):
Most of the offramp at the interchange is unchanged. The curbside, where the 101 off-ramp enters Sir Francis Drake, has been remodelled slightly but it’s still in the same position as the day Marcella Platt nearly collided with the VW Beetle.
You can see the Redwood Highway (101) and the same curb behind Harry at 01:31:33 after he jumped from the railway trestle.
The bus continued east along Sir Francis Drake and at left were two small buildings while Mt Tamalpais is centre in the distance.
There are still two buildings on the same site, but they look as if they’ve been completely renovated.
One of these is 12 East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard which as Harry passed by in 1971 had a sign on it saying Pacific Coast Insulation Co.
At frame 01:32:19, where the bus leaves the road and enters the quarry, there’s a split second view back up Sir Francis Drake toward 101 as it looked in 1971. 12 E Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is a white blur at left (below).
Here’s a similar view (below) in 2009.
The photos below were taken in 2009 when more of the trestle remained.
Visiting the railway trestle is very easy from San Francisco. Golden Gate Ferry operates services to Larkspur Landing from the San Francisco Ferry Building. The trip takes 30-40 minutes and for only a few dollars each way gives great views of the Bay Area.
When you step off the ferry in Larkspur, go left on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard – follow any sign that says ‘Corte Madera’ or ‘Downtown Larkpsur’. You’ll see what remains of the trestle across the Corte Madera in only a few minutes.
Capture Marin has some excellent aerial footage of the trestle remains and surrounding area: