May 14, 1995

Oregon’s Covered Bridges Can Be Pathways To Horse-And-Buggy Past

Larry W. Earl Correspondent
 

Lane County in Oregon boasts being the covered bridge capital of Oregon with its 19 “creek covers.”

Each bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of the bridges are named after pioneering families who settled in the area.

The covered bridges are holdovers from the horse-and-buggy past and offer a glimpse of history and photographic opportunities. The increasing patchwork of interstate and multiple-lane highways has just about eliminated covered bridges throughout America.

The bridges were covered to protect the span under the roof from moisture and associated wood rot. It was easier and cheaper to reshingle a roof than to replace the support structure. An additional benefit of the cover was to keep the wooden planks free of snow and ice for pedestrians or horse-drawn wagons.

Although the covered bridges are similarly engineered, each has a unique history. Their age, size, length and location add to their individual character.

Several pamphlets on the covered bridges are available from Lane County visitor centers. One pamphlet gives directions for a 20-mile driving loop tour of five bridges near Cottage Grove. It provides a brief description of the architecture style and history of each bridge on the loop. One of the bridges is the abandoned Chambers Bridge, constructed in 1936. It is the only surviving covered railroad bridge in the United States.

Information

On accommodations, local events and points of interest in the Cottage Grove area, call the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce at (503) 942-2411. Ask for a copy of the Lane County Visitors Guide.

Most of the covered bridges in Lane County are on secondary roadways and country lanes. A handy travel guide is the “Oregon Atlas & Gazetteer” by DeLorme Mapping. The guide has detailed topographical maps of the entire state. It is available at most outdoor, sporting and book stores.

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