How earth was moved for the Golden Gate Bridge

March 17, 2023

The world famous Golden Gate Bridge was built in the mid-1930s. Not so well known was the considerable earthmoving required to construct the approaches on U.S. Highway 101.

California contractor Macco Construction Co. was awarded contracts for grading parts of these approaches. The north approach, through the Marin Hills, was by far the more difficult, with heavy cuts and fills on either side of the Waldo Tunnel.

For more old iron, go to our Historical Equipment page, courtesy of the Historical Construction Equipment Association.

In San Francisco, the approach cut through less severe terrain in The Presidio.

The job proved an ideal opportunity for R. G. LeTourneau’s recently designed rubber-tired, cable-operated pull scrapers to show their capabilities in high-yardage work through rough terrain. Details of Macco’s fleet are unavailable, but it also included LeTourneau dozers and pull rippers.  

The Historical Construction Equipment Association (HCEA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of the construction, dredging and surface mining equipment industries. With over 3,600 members in over a dozen countries, our activities include publication of a quarterly educational magazine, Equipment Echoes; operation of National Construction Equipment Museum and archives in Bowling Green, Ohio; and hosting an annual working exhibition of restored construction equipment. Our next International Convention and Old Equipment Exhibition will be September 22-24, 2023, at the National Construction Equipment Museum in Bowling Green, Ohio. The HCEA is raising funds for construction of a new purpose-built building to house its equipment collection. 

Individual annual memberships in the HCEA are $35.00 within the USA and Canada, and $55.00 US elsewhere. We seek to develop relationships in the equipment manufacturing industry, and we offer a college scholarship for engineering and construction management students. Information is available at, by calling 419.352.5616, or e-mailing [email protected].