Friday, December 11, 2015

Cottage Grove (Oregon) Covered Bridges


Currin Bridge built in 1925, restored in 1995. (Julianne G. Crane)

Cottage Grove, in central western Oregon, is said to be the "Covered Bridge Capital of the West." With more than 50 covered bridges in Oregon, 20 are in Lane County and six of those are within a few minutes of downtown Cottage Grove.

"Lane County was the first Oregon county to build covered bridges on a large scale and currently maintains more than any other county west of the Mississipp," according to CottageGrove.net.

Why so many covered bridges? According to several sources, it is because western Oregon is rich with timber and people built wooden bridges and then covered them to order to keep them from rotting away as quickly in the Northwest’s damp and rainy weather. Roofs and sides help extend a bridge's lifespan from about 8-10 to 30-50 years. 

Dorena Bridge. (Julianne G. Crane)
"Another nice feature of a covered bridge," states the Dorena Lake website, is that "it allowed travelers a place to take shelter from the weather during rainy season." Original construction of the six covered bridges near Cottage Grove date from 1920 to 1987.

The Currin Bridge (top photo) spans 105 feet over the Row River. Constructed in 1925 and rehabilitated in the mid-1990s, this currently pedestrian-only bridge stands on the site of a bridge built in 1883.

A personal favorite is the Dorena Bridge, six miles east of downtown Cottage Grove on the far end of the Dorena Reservoir. "Constructed in 1949 for $16,547, the 105 foot long bridge" was restored in 1996. It is a picturesque site popular with tourists and for weddings. There are restroom facilities here with a nice-size parking lot for RVs.

RVer Malia Lane reads about Chambers Bridge history (Julianne G. Crane)
Chambers Railroad Bridge (above) was originally built in 1925 by lumberman J.E. Chambers "to cross the Coast Fork of the Willamette from his sawmill to the timber lands west of town." It is the last covered railroad bridge in Oregon and was fully restored in 2011 as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. With seating available, this is a great place for a picnic lunch.

Centennial Bridge Cottage Grove, Ore. (Julianne G. Crane)
The Centennial Bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge constructed in 1997 by volunteers to celebrate Cottage Grove’s 100th birthday.

"Materials came from two Lane County bridges that had been demolished. It rests on abutments of the old Main Street Bridge, which stood until the 1950s."

For more information: 
- Click on: Covered Bridges of Cottage Grove, Oregon 
- For Covered Bridge Tour map, click here.
- Cottage Grove: Exit 174 off I-5 (South of Eugene)
- Tour time: Plan on 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
- For information on local RV parks go to  RVWheelLife.com

-- Text and photos by Julianne G. Crane
To read more about the RV Lifestyle by Julianne G. Crane and Jimmy Smith, go to RVWheelLife.com

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