Shasta Scale Modelers Replicate the Sundial Bridge
Story: Amber Galusha Photos: Bret Christensen
What do you get when you fill a workspace with plastic, wood, metal, fishing line and the creative mind of Stan Freeman? A scale model of the Sundial Bridge. In collaboration with Mike Lindsey, founding member of Shasta Scale Modelers, Freeman skillfully turned out the replica in about 1,500 hours.
Finding inspiration to take on such a labor-intensive task might seem daunting to some, but scale modeling has been Freeman’s creative outlet since he was a boy growing up during World War II. “My first model was of a plane my uncle flew in the South Pacific,” he says. “It was a stick and paper model, which was all we had back then.”
His love for modeling grew, and in 2006, Freeman joined the Shasta Scale Modelers, the Northern California Chapter of the International Modelers Society. The group had a long-range plan to build a model of the Redding Airport as it was in 1942, but before they could launch a project of that magnitude, the modelers knew they needed to begin with something a bit simpler.
“We rattled things around and the idea of the Sundial Bridge came up,” says Freeman. With camera, measuring tape and sketch tools in hand, he set out for the bridge and drew up a rough plan. He presented his drawings to the group, received approval and got to work.
Because there were no commercially available pieces to replicate the bridge, Freeman had to get creative. “It took a lot of imagination and scratching around the hardware store until I found something that was, ‘Aha! I can use that,’” he says.
To construct the 14 metal cable stays that support the bridge deck, Freeman cut 80-pound fishing line and meticulously painted each strand silver. Although the stays were time consuming, his biggest challenge was making the glass deck look realistic. “I started out with a clear sheet of plastic, sanded it to make a dull finish, and on the underside, I used a blue-green paint to give it the proper color,” says Freeman. “Then I masked off all of the stainless steel strips that separate the glass and painted them with a silver Sharpie.”
From abutment to abutment, the bridge spans eight feet, with the three-foot white pylon towering above the sundial plaza. Count the landscape dioramas that were designed using plant materials from Freeman’s garden, and the project measures an impressive 10 by 2 feet.
Of course, the model would not be complete without people – about 100 of them. Bicyclists, a TV crew and anglers floating in boats below the bridge bring the setting to life. Lindsey hand-painted three-quarter inch figures appropriate to daily bridge activity. To add entertainment value, he included a surprise guest. “We’ve got two Where’s Waldo figures on the bridge,” says Lindsey. “Of course, Waldo has never actually been on the Sundial Bridge, but he brings a fun aspect to the model.”
Shasta Scale Modelers welcomes new members and offers various organized youth activities, including the Make and Take program, where kids spend an hour or two at All Around RC & Hobbies and leave with a free, completed model.
Anyone with interest, dedication, and most importantly, the ability to have fun can be a scale modeler. “We’re not world class engineers or artists,” Lindsey says. “We’re a bunch of pretty average guys, who by applying some effort and research, created something that we feel is pretty amazing.”
The replica is on display at All Around RC & Hobbies on East Cypress Avenue in Redding, but will eventually be moved to Bank of America in downtown Redding.
Wherever it’s enjoyed, Freeman and Lindsey hope the Sundial Bridge model continues to entertain and inspire, promoting fellowship within the community.