Klamath History
How the Bears Turned Gold
How the Bears Turned Gold

The Golden Bears on the Klamath River Bridge weren't always golden. Sometime in the late 50's or early 60's mysteriously the cement bears on the old bridge would turn golden over night. Despite efforts of the State Highway Department with buckets of turpentine swabbing off that golden color, overnight the bears would be returned to their golden hue.

It all started one evening in old Klamath The town was starting to look awful tired. A group of local businessmen (Herb Fehley , John Menary , Ray Thompson , Pat Murphy, Ward Berg, Johnny Rycraft and Bud Harper to name a few) were having a cocktail at one of the local pubs discussing things, when someone announced it was time for Klamath's main street to have a face lift. So with brooms, mops, trash containers and general cleaning apparatus the group set out that night to rejuvenate the downtown area. The streets were swept, the litter removed, the windows washed and all the dust and cob webs were swept away.

One voice in the group muttered there needs to be one final touch. One voice said" I've got some gold paint in the shed at home", another said" I've got some brushes". "Let's paint those Bears Gold" And so they did.

Periodically the Highway Department would restore the bears to their natural state.

"The Golden Bear Club" again would meet at a local pub armed with cleaning supplies, they'd spruce up the downtown area and of course left their trademark "The Golden Bears" on the Klamath Bridge. It didn't take too long before the Highway Department realized Klamath liked those Bears golden. To this day, Cal- Trans maintains the spirit of the "Golden Bear Club." The new Memorial Bridge completed in 1965 greets visitors from around the world with its landmark California Golden Bears.

Thus, the Golden Bear Booster Club was formed They had no officers, no bylaws, no scheduled meetings. In other words, the only rules they had were there are no rules.


Klamath Chamber of Commerce
   PO Box 476 · Klamath, California 95548 · 800.200.2335

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