Oregon has more than 50 historic bridges still in use
The romance of covered bridges draws you in with thoughts of those long-ago days when life was simpler and technology non-existent; when there were horse-drawn wagons; ladies in long flowing dresses and, lovers stopping beneath their cover for a quick kiss or two, away from prying eyes and disapproving looks.
Using only hand tools, sweat and determination, these early pioneers began building covered bridges in the early 1850's mainly because they would last 80 or more years whereas an uncovered span would deteriorate in a few short years. Construction of these bridges continued into the 1950's when, because of heavier loads and increased traffic, concrete and steel became the way of the future.
Oregon at one time had more than 400 covered bridges. Today only about 50 or so remain either being replaced, dismantled or becoming unsafe. Some have been restored for historical preservation becoming part of parks. However, only a few still allow vehicular traffic.
Oregon does, however have more of these bridges than any other state west of the Mississippi. They are part of the history of Oregon. The following is a list of bridges easily accessible for those who have an interest in history.
Benton County - there is a 75-foot covered bridge crossing Mary's River, built in 1936 named after the George Harris family who settled in the area in 1890. Oregon's oldest bridge crossing the Alsea River is 91 feet long. It was originally built in 1918 and rebuilt in 1945. Another bridge in this county wasn't built until 1954 and was later moved to Oregon's State University.
Coos County - the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge is now only used in a park setting.
Deschutes County - there is only one of these bridges.
Douglas County - the Cavitt Creek Bridge built in 1943 crosses Little River. Horse Creek Bridge was built in 1930 with a 105-foot span. The Milo Academy Bridge's exact age is unknown. Neal Lane Bridge is beautiful in the Fall months because of the numerous Myrtlewood trees surrounding it. Pass Creek Covered Bridge has been pedestrian only since 1989. Other bridges in the area are Roaring Creek built in 1927 and Rochester built in 1933.
Jackson County - Antelope Creek Covered Bridge is also a pedestrian crossing. Lost Creek Bridge at 39 feet is considered to be the shortest in Oregon. McKee Bridge is 122 feet long and crosses the Applegate River. Wimer Covered Bridge on Evans Creek was built in 1892.
Josephine County is home to Graves Creek Bridge built in 1920. The creek and bridge were named for Martha Leland Crowley who died at this crossing in 1846.
Lane County - Belknap Bridge has a 120-foot span, built in 1966. It is one of Oregon's newer bridges. Chamber Railroad Bridge is the only remaining covered railroad bridge in Oregon. This 78-foot span built in 1936 was named after the Frank Cambers Sawmill. Coyote Creek Bridge built in 1922 has a 60-foot span. Currin Covered Bridge is the only bridge in the state to be painted in two colors - red and white. Built in 1925, it replaced the original 105-foot span that had been built in 1883 --foot traffic only. Mosley Bridge is Lane County's oldest covered bridge. Built in 1922 it has a 90-foot span. Deadwood Bridge was built in 1932 and has a 10-foot span. Surrounded by trees on a quiet gravel road, it is worth a trip to see. Goodpasture Bridge was named after a local pioneer family. Built in 1938 it has a 165-foot span. It is still open to traffic. Office Bridge is the longest covered bridge with a span of 180 feet was built in 1944. It is the only bridge in Oregon that has an attached covered walkway. Pengra Bridge crossing Fall Creek was built in 1938 with a 120-foot span. It is a beautiful spot to visit in the autumn months when the trees shimmer with their jewel-colored Fall foliage. Wildcat Creek Bridge is romance at its best. Crossing where Wildcat Creek and Siuslaw River meet, it was built in 1925 with a 75-foot span.
Lincoln County - has the Chitwood, the Fisher and Northfork of the Yachats.
Linn County - has the Bohemian Hall, the Crawfordsville, Gilkey, Hannah, Hoffman, the Larwood, the Short, the Shimanel and Weddle.
Marion County - has the Gallon House, a must see, the Jordan and the Overfield, Oregon's newest covered bridge built in 2000 as a pedestrian crossing over Silver Creek in Silverton.
Multnomah County - the Cedar Crossing Bridge.
Polk County - has the Fourtner and Ritner Creek Bridges.
Oregon is a state for lovers of covered bridges to take a step back into time and imagine the sound of horses hooves with riders urging them on as they cross the bridges. And it is an opportunity to enjoy exploring these historical structures without the need to travel to the more eastern states.
Sylvia Behnish has had numerous articles published in magazines and newspapers in both Canada and the United States on subjects relating to travel. For more information on exploring and travel, near and far, go to: sebehnish.blogspot.com
Photos, from top: Coyote Creek Bridge, Cavitt Creek Bridge, Chitwood Bridge, Cedar Crossing Bridge
Photos by BILL COCKRELL
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