Most people think of quaint New England villages when they think of covered bridges, but Oregon also has it's share. Today, many are preserved next to new concrete spans and some have been converted into roadside parks, but there are still a wonderful few bridges that still serve Oregon's highways.
In Oregon, covered bridges were a natural choice. Timber was abundant and inexpensive, and covered wooden bridges with timber trusses were still being erected well into the 1960ís. Times change though, and since the 1970ís, it has become apparent that our natural resources are diminishing. The cost of lumber began to inflate, and the cost of maintaining wooden spans was no longer acceptable. Concrete spans required less maintenance and were more durable.
Even before these revelations came to light, Oregonís covered bridges were already fast disappearing as steel spans and concrete spans seemed more practicable for wider, modern highways. Sometimes, the old wooden bridges were simply set on fire to clear the way for a modern structure. For a County Superintendent, decisions are based on economics, but for the area residents, the heart takes over.
Those who live near these quaint structures have always been quite attached to them (see Rochester Bridge for an example). As more and more of these bridges were dismantled and demolished, more and more people began to realize that a covered bridge represents more than a simple conveyance utility, a covered bridge is part of the character of the communities in which they serve. They are one of those quality of life resources which cannot be measured in dollars and cents, and in these somewhat more enlightened times, when a bridge is marked for removal, the community rallies to preserve the structure.
Unfortunately, our covered bridges are still disappearing. The photo at the top of this page shows Jordan Covered Bridge as it appeared on December 31, 1992 in Stayton, Oregon. Shortly after these pictures were made the structure tragically burned. The wiring for the Christmas lights shorted and sparked the flames that brought it down.
This was a heartbreak for the Stayton community who had raised funds to rescue the bridge from its slated destruction. They moved it from Jordan Creek to Pioneer Park in their town and there the entire community pitched in to restore the bridge to it's original condition.
Although now gone, it will be remembered here along with all the remaining covered bridges in our state. I will include other views of it under Marion County in the Covered Bridge Guide.
What follows on the next page is a county by county guide to Oregon's bridges, fifty-two in all. Many of the files contain animated GIF slide shows. These files are large, so please allow the complete picture to load in order to enjoy all the views.