Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Oregon Covered Bridges - LOWELL 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 eight regions.
Here is what we discovered in the
Lowell Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-20-18
Lane County
The Lowell Covered Bridge was built in 1945 with the Howe truss design and spans 165 feet across the Middle Fork Willamette River ~ Dexter Lake Reservoir.
When Amos Hyland settled on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River in 1874, he plotted a small townsite and named it after his birthplace of Lowell, Maine.
In 1953, the whole bridge was raised six feet and the roadway rebuilt in anticipation of the flooding produced by Dexter Dam. The engineers’ estimates were correct, and water has never risen closer than 2 feet from the bottom of the bridge.
The Lowell Covered Bridge holds the title of being the bridge closest to the average of six feet.  The bridge is also the only Oregon covered bridge that crosses a lake.
Until 1981, some of the heaviest truck traffic in Oregon passed through the Lowell Bridge. It was closed that year when a modern concrete span was built paralleling the old wooden one.
Prior to the closure, a dump truck passing through the bridge with its bed raised extensively damaged the span.  Lane County replaced broken lateral roof braces and portal boards, only to close the structure several weeks later when it was bypassed by the bridge used today.
For the cost of 1.2 million, the Lowell Covered Bridge is now an interpretive center.
Historic photographic displays now line the inside of the bridge.
This "park" project is an excellent way to utilize an "unused" covered bridge.
If interested in checking out the Oregon covered bridges, the Lowell Interpretive Center would be a great place to start.
A small replica of the Lowell bridge is on display within the actual Lowell bridge.
 My mother loved the Lowell Covered Bridge because she was also born in 1945.
To get there from Interstate 5, take the Highway 58 exit, travel east to Lowell. Alternately, from Unity follow Jasper-Lowell Road about 3 miles to Highway 58. The Lowell covered bridge is on the south side of Dexter Lake.
Parvin Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-20-19
Lane County
The Parvin Covered Bridge was built in 1921 with the Howe truss design and spans 75 feet over Lost Creek.
The span was bypassed in the mid-1970s when the road was realigned, with only pedestrians able to cross the bridge.
Lane County decided to reopen the structure, with November 17, 1986, being a special day for the several dozen people which gathered at the dedication of the renovated span. Present for the dedication ceremony were two granddaughters of James and Salina Parvin who homesteaded in the area during the 1850s.
The Parvin bridge is an excellent bridge to see the underneath structure up close.  Here my mother is able to reach up and touch the bridge.
Large screw bolts keep the structure intact.
The Parvin Covered Bridge sits in a quiet little valley along Lost Creek.
A dominant feature in the valley that can be seen from the bridge is the nearby ancient volcanic cone named Mt. Zion.
 In the photo above, Mt Zion is the cinder cone on the left and Eagles Rest is the cinder cone in the distant right.
At the time we visited the Parvin Covered Bridge, the small nearby town of  Dexter was having their last day of the season Farmer's Market.  We bought some organic corn, beans, potatoes, and onions.  We also ate what was called an Indian Taco.  It was delicious, but the name really didn't fit the food.

To get there from I-5, take the Highway 58 exit and travel east to Dexter, just west of Lowell. Turn south on Lost Creek Road. Turn right onto Rattlesnake Road from Lost Creek Road at Mile Point 1.8, and follow Rattlesnake west for 0.5 miles. Turn south on Lost Valley Lane to Parvin Road. Alternately, exit Highway 58 at Lost Creek Road and travel southeast to Parvin Road. Continue south on Parvin Road to the bridge.
Unity Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-20-17
Lane County
The Unity Covered Bridge was built in 1936 with the Howe truss design and spans 90 feet crossing Fall Creek.
The county used a standardized 90-foot Howe truss design but added a full length window in the east side to give motorists a glimpse of oncoming traffic, adding an aesthetic effect to the structure. The county spent only $4,400 in constructing the span.
In July 1986, Lane County temporarily closed the bridge for repairs. In addition to replacing the flooring, other work included repair of the piers and guardrails, exterior painting, and removing evidence of vandalism.  The Unity Covered Bridge was difficult to photograph. Access to the creek side was difficult and even not available; signs were close to bridge because the bridge sits at a crossroads.
A nearby maple tree took center stage, brilliantly displaying its fall colors.
To get there from Interstate 5, take exit Highway 58 and travel east to the town of Lowell. Turn left at the Lowell Covered Bridge and continue north through Lowell on County Road 6220 (Lowell-Unity Road) for two miles to Unity.
Pengra Covered Bridge
World Guide Number: 37-20-15
Lane County
The Pengra Covered Bridge was built in 1938 with the Howe truss design and spans 120 feet across Fall Creek.
My dog, Pynekone, poses with the Pengra Covered Bridge in the distant.
(He hates to get his feet wet)
The Pengra Bridge contains two of the longest timbers ever cut for a bridge in Oregon. The timbers for the lower chords, 16" x 18" x 126 feet, were cut by the Booth-Kelly Lumber Company east of Springfield.
Since 18" timbers were too large to be run through a mill, they were rough-hewn in the woods, transported to the bridge site by truck and resurfaced before being set into place. The dimensions of the upper chord are similar proportions at 14" x 18" x 96 feet.
The use of one-piece chords simplified construction techniques and resulted in a stronger truss, but handling such large timbers was often difficult.
Pengra was a station on the Cascade Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad and was named for B. J. Pengra, a pioneer who became general surveyor of Oregon in 1862.
Pengra had surveyed the route of the Oregon Central Military Road to link the Willamette Valley with the Owyhee mining country of Eastern Oregon.
The road was finished to the summit of the Cascades in 1867 but was seldom used. The Pengra Unity Road lies on the old railroad grade and has been renamed Place Road.
To get there from I-5, take the Highway 58 exit and travel east to Parkway Road. Follow Parkway Road north to the community of Jasper. Turn southeast on Jasper-Lowell Road for about 3 miles. Turn left (east) on Little Falls Creek Road and travel 1/4 mile to Place Road.
Coyote Creek Covered Bridge
The Coyote Creek Covered Bridge sits west of Eugene and south of Crow.  The bridge is not apart of the Lowell or the Cottage Grove collection.  It sits alone all by itself.  I have put it into the Lowell collection because it is close to Eugene. 
World Guide Number: 37-20-02
Lane County
The Coyote Creek Covered Bridge was built in 1920 with the Howe truss design and spans 60 feet across Coyote Creek.
 The Coyote Creek Bridge is often called Battle Creek Bridge because it is located on Battle Creek Road. Others refer to it as the Swing Log Bridge because it was called that many years ago.  The Coyote Creek Bridge was originally part of Territorial Road (1851) and was included in the state secondary road system. The bridge was bypassed when truck traffic became too heavy and a more direct highway route was constructed.
Heavy snowfall severely damaged the bridge in 1969 as the weight of more than three feet of snow collapsed the entire roof. Chainsaws were used to saw off the rafters, and the bridge remained uncovered until early spring when county crews reroofed the structure.

To get there from Eugene, travel six miles west on Highway 126 to Crow Road. Take Crow Road southwest to its intersection with Territorial Highway. Turn left (south) on Territorial Highway for one mile to Battle Creek Road. Turn right (west) on Battle Creek Road for approximately 100 yards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love your site. We had to move my mom down from Oregon to Nevada and stopped, but couldn't remember the name of the covered bridge. After about a hour I came upon your site and bingo. Your trips looked like a lot of fun.