Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Oregon Covered Bridges - COAST RANGE REGION

 In October 2009, my mother and I, and the four dogs, began a venture that would end up taking us on a journey throughout the western half of the state of Oregon.  Our goal was to visit all of Oregon's covered bridges.  We accomplished this goal in six weekend day trips.  I have divided the covered bridges into nine regions.
Here is what we discovered in the
Sandy Creek Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-06-09
Coos County
The Sandy Creek Covered Bridge was built in 1921.

 The bridge carried traffic on Oregon Highway 42 until it was bypassed in 1949. The 60-foot span was considered short in comparison to other covered bridges built on Oregon highways.

Two crossed Howe truss members on each chord strengthen the bridge; a rarity in short covered bridges.   An additional aspect of the bridge is the use of large-framed windows on both sides of the structure, maximizing the illumination of the bridge interior.
In late 1981, a plan was developed to make a park at the bridge and use the old wooden structure as a covered picnic site. The Myrtle Point Lions Club adopted the bridge as a major project.  We never did stop here to eat lunch.  The bridge park was a central "rest-stop" for the dogs to get out of the car and stretch their legs.

To get there, from Roseburg travel west on Highway 42 approximately 31 miles to Remote, or 17 miles east from Myrtle Point. Sandy Creek Bridge is on the north side of Highway 42, 1/4 mile west of the Remote exit.

Wildcat Creek Covered Bridge

World Guide Number: 37-20-04
Lane County 
The Wildcat Covered  Bridge was built in 1925.
The Wildcat Bridge is located on a small winding road a short distance from Highway 126.
 From the bridge site where Wildcat Creek flows into the Siuslaw River, Stagecoach Road hugs the hillside until it drops into the narrow plain in the small town of Swisshome.  Stagecoach Road was the original road to the coast, but was bypassed after the Linslaw Tunnel and Mapleton Bridge were built in the 1930s.
The 75 foot Howe truss span includes a long narrow window opening on the west side to provide a view for oncoming traffic.
To get there, travel 33 miles west of Eugene or 27 miles east of Florence on Oregon Highway 126 to Whitaker Creek /Clay Creek Recreation Area turnoff. Exit the highway on the south side and follow the road back under the highway and railroad tracks (north) a short distance to the bridge.
Nelson Mountain Covered Bridge

World Guide Number: 37-20-06
Lane County
The Nelson Mountain Covered Bridge was built in 1928 for the modest price of $3,155
The bridge has a Howe type truss which is 105 feet long, crossing Lake Creek.  The bridge also goes by the name of Lake Creek Covered Bridge.
 To get there, from Eugene take Highway 99 north to Highway 36. Travel west on Highway 36 approximately 38 miles to Nelson Mountain Road. Alternately, travel north from Mapleton on Highway 36. The Nelson Mountain Road turnoff is located near milepost 17. Turn south on Nelson Mountain Road to the bridge.
Deadwood Covered Bridge
 World Guide Number: 37-20-38
Lane County
The Deadwood Covered Bridge was built in 1932.
Once considered one of Oregon's most dilapidated covered bridges, the Deadwood Bridge is now among the state's finest refurbished roofed spans.  The bridge has a Howe truss design and crosses 105 feet over Deadwood Creek.
The architectural elements of Deadwood Bridge are quite unique.  The flooring was installed on a slant so that traffic rounding the corner onto the bridge would travel more safely. Other elements include false end beams, semi-elliptical portal arches with trim, and large openings along the west elevation.
To get there from Eugene, travel west to Mapleton on Highway 126. Continue northeast on Highway 36 through Swisshome 12 miles to Deadwood (or southwest from Junction City). Turn north on Lower Deadwood Road. Follow Lower Deadwood Road approximately 5 miles and turn right on Deadwood Loop Road. Deadwood Creek is on Deadwood Loop Road at Mile Point 0.3
North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-21-08
Lincoln County
The North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge was built in 1938 with the Queenpost truss design and spans 42 feet across the North Fork of the Yachats River.
Located just seven miles from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean, this trim little bridge is the closest to the ocean of all the Oregon covered bridges.
The rustic covered bridge cost the county only $1,500.
The North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge is one of the few Oregon bridges built with the Queenpost truss, and the wood planked flooring is also a unique feature to the bridge.
This "storybook" bridge is one of the most isolated bridges to visit, even though it is only 8.5 miles off of the tourist Highway 101.  It is also one of the most photogenic, and one of my favorites.
The North Fork Yachats Covered Bridge was actually the first bridge my mother and I visited...the year before, when we were out-and-about exploring rivers.

It was fun to return to the Yachats Covered Bridge, our covered bridge exploration.
To get there from the coastal town of Yachats on Hwy 101, travel approximately 7 miles east on Yachats River Road to North Yachats River Road. At the intersection turn north, (left), and travel approximately 1.5 miles up the dirt road.
 Fisher Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-21-11
Lincoln County
The Fisher Covered Bridge was built in 1927.  The bridge is also known as the Fisher School covered bridge and the Five Rivers covered bridge.
 The bridge was built with the Howe truss design and is 72 feet long.
 The Fisher Bridge is located in the rugged foothills of Lincoln County. The structure spans Five Rivers, so named because of the five streams of Alder Creek, Cougar Creek, Buck Creek, Crab Creek and Cherry Creek which make up the stream.
 According to a 1942 Lincoln County bridge report, the Fisher Bridge was built in 1927 at a cost of $1,800. The dispute in the date of construction may have been due to the renovation of the span in 1927. Other county records show the cost to build the span in 1919 was $2,500.
 Pynekone enjoyed a chance to get out of the car.
A unique feature to the Fisher Bridge is that the bridge is painted red.  Most Oregon covered bridges are all white, but the covered bridges remaining in Lincoln County are all exclusively painted red.  When I asked the official's for the reason behind the red paint over the traditional white, no one knew, nor did they know why the bridges are painted white.
My educated guess for the red paint would be that the white paint doesn't hold up as well in the damp, rainy, foggy, tree shaded areas of Lincoln County, and a red bridge would show less dirt.  I am just guessing though.  And, a white bridge is likely due to the cost of paint.  White was and still is cheaper.
A picnic "tail-gate" lunch was a common occurrence on our bridge tour for my mom and me...and dogs.  This of course was the dog's favorite part of the trip.
Mom and Mocha pose nicely with the Fisher Covered Bridge positioned in the background.

To get there from Interstate 5, take the Corvallis exit (228) west 38 miles through Philomath on US 20. Follow Highway 34 southwest through Alsea and continue 20 miles west to the Five Rivers-Fisher Road (Forest Service Road 141).  From Waldport, travel 20 mile west on Hwy 34 to the Five Rivers-Fisher Road.  From there, turn south at the fork at Siletz Road. Continue left past Buck Creek Road about one mile to the bridge.

Chitwood Covered Bridge
 World Guide Number: 37-21-03
Lincoln County
The Chitwood Covered Bridge spans 96 feet across the Yaquina River, and was built in 1926 with the Howe truss design.
 Not much activity occurs at Chitwood anymore. Several stores, a post office, a telephone office, and several houses once surrounded the Chitwood Bridge. The few houses that remain and the warn down store across the river are a bleak reminder of the vitality the community once had.
Logging in the area once boomed enough to support not only the stores, but also contributed to rowdy times in the Chitwood Dance Hall.  In the early 1900s Chitwood became an important rail stop for the steam locomotives from Yaquina to Corvallis, as the town was where the engines took on water and fuel, as well as passengers and freight.
With the fast pace world of today, the Chitwood Bridge will become even more bleak and isolated when the Hwy 20 bypass is completed.  Only those who seek out the bridge will find it now.
Mom and Mocha enjoying another photo opportunity.
To get there from Interstate 5, take the Corvallis exit (228) west 38 miles through Philomath on US 20. The bridge adjoins Highway 20 near milepost 17. Alternately, travel east from Newport on Highway 20, 17 miles to Chitwood.
Drift Creek Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-21-14
Lincoln County
The Drift Creek Bridge has a long history. Originally built south of Lincoln City only 1.5 miles from the coast, the bridge was considered the oldest remaining covered bridge, and the closest to the ocean, in Oregon.
The bridge was built in 1914 with the Howe truss design.  The bridge once span 66 feet across Drift Creek, but today, the historic bridge crosses 66 feet across Bear Creek, about 8 miles to the northeast of it original location.
The span once served traffic on a main north-south route along the Oregon coast. New roads and highways were built later, thus diverting most of the traffic from the now remote site.
After the bridge was bypassed with a concrete span in the mid-1960s, Lincoln County passed an ordinance preserving the wooden structure as an historical memorial to the Lincoln County pioneers.
However, in early 1988, Lincoln County officials had to close the Drift Creek Bridge to pedestrian traffic due to the deteriorating condition of the span. Excessive rot and insect damage had weakened the bridge to a dangerous level. Steel beams were installed inside the bridge to keep it from falling into the water.

The area around the bridge was excavated in an effort to isolate the structure and limit access. This bridge was dismantled in late 1997. The County gave the timbers to the Sweitz family who owned land only eight miles to the north of the original site.
Laura and Kerry Sweitz had envisioned the house being rebuilt over their concrete bridge that provides access to their property across Bear Creek. In the pioneer spirit that this bridge represents and through hardship and strife, their monumental efforts resulted in the resurrection of the bridge which now stands in a small, beautiful park-like setting.
Some of the treasures within their little park include;
a covered bridge bird feeder...
...named the "Red Bridge Cafe."
We also discovered some old pioneer farm equipment appropriately painted "covered bridge" red.
In the park, there is a picnic table and a few benches, and a plaque commemorating the historic bridge.
The Sweitz family mail box out front is also designed as a traditional Lincoln County colored covered bridge.
In the spirit of all the hard work the Sweitz family accomplished in preserving a national historic treasure, I dedicate this blog on the Oregon Coast Covered Bridges to your family.

To get there from Lincoln City, head north on Hwy. 101 to Hwy. 18. Travel east on Hwy. 18 to milepost 3.96. Turn right on Bear Creek Road and travel 0.9 mile. The bridge is located on the left.

1 comment:

willow scar clan said...

Thank you Stephen! I haven't been bridge hunting in a long time. You made me feel welcome on your trip. Photos excellent! ~willow in utah~