The age of the recently dismantled Drift Creek Covered Bridge recently came into question after Lincoln County Historical Society Curator Steve Wyatt visited the bridge to photograph the dismantling process. Algrid Zaplys, the contractor in charge of the project who specializes in dismantling historic structures, expressed to Wyatt his belief the beams and hardware used in the construction of the bridge were newer than 1914. Virtually all covered bridge guide books, the National Historic Register nomination form and countless other publications dating back to the 1960's place the date of construction of this covered bridge at 1914.
A research challenge presented itself to the staff at the Historical Society. A member of thef Wolfe family (who ran a dairy farm adjacent to the bridge site beginning in 1915) was contacted. It was recalled the recently dismantled covered bridge was at least the third bridge over upper Drift Creek. At least two non-covered bridges were destroyed by floods near the bridge site. The first washed out in 1915, the second in the 1920's. For several years the only means of crossing Drift Creek was on a log.
A search of old newspapers on microfilm was then undertaken. The headline Bridge on Drift Creek was located in the Beach Resort News, a newspaper based in Delake (a town near Drift Creek, now a part of Lincoln City). This Sept. 15, 1933 article announced "Work was started on the construction of a wooden covered bridge near the Wolf place about four miles east of the Coast Highway." The article went on to give some information on the contractor and crew, then added, "The new bridge will displace the one that has become unfit for further use." Research indicates that bridge construction was done in conjunction with realignment and other improvements on Drift Creek Road.
Lincoln County Courthouse records document that on August 7, 1933 bids were opened "for building a bridge over Drift Creek, approximately 4 miles South East of Taft...". The job was awarded to Warren Roberts who backed out of the contract. The commissioners then awarded the bid to James V. Curry. He was paid in two installments totalling $690.
A source of confusion for researchers may be that Lincoln County has two Drift Creeks. One is located in South Lincoln County and empties into the Alsea Bay, east of Waldport. It is this Drift Creek (in South Lincoln Co.) where there was a nearby community called Drift Creek that later had eight different names, including Collins, Lutgens, Stanford and Nice. This town has since moved across the Alsea Bay and is now known as Waldport.
The Drift Creek of covered bridge fame is in North Lincoln County (near Lincoln City) and empties into the Siletz Bay.
Lincoln County Historical Society Director Loretta Harrison stated "While our research indicates the Drift Creek Covered Bridge was probably built in 1933 the Historical Society strongly believes this structure is well worth saving, relocating the bridge to Bear Creek saves a part of Lincoln County history." She added "The Sweitz family is to be commended for coming forward with the plan to save the bridge, the Society will help in any way we can and we encourage others to help with rebuilding the bridge."
The Lincoln County Historical Society is still searching for additional photographs or information on the Drift Creek Covered Bridge and its builder James V. Curry. The Society can be reached at (541) 265-7509. Donations to assist with reassembling the Drift Creek Covered Bridge can be made to the"Save the Covered Bridges" account at any branch of the Bank of Newport.