Clicking on the linked bridge names will take you to Bridgehunter.com with historical information about each bridge, location maps and photos. Hovering with your mouse over the photos will give you the name of the bridge as well. Again, the google map and link to our tour is here. My picasaweb/google photo albums have many additional photos of the bridges and our trip.
We planned our next day of bridge hunting from Eugene with the thought of a lovely morning walk along the trail before traveling east and north toward Cascadia. We also had to make a decision to give up traveling to some wonderful bridges east on the MacKenzie Highway and save those for another time. Too many bridges!
Although we had heard rumors of the Eugene Marathon, we didn’t quite understand that all those folks would be running right past our little mall campsite on the same trail. After a bit of Indecision as to how to best manage a walk amidst weary runners approaching their 18th mile we finally decided to cross the bridge, thinking we would be far ahead of the pack. Once there, however, we discovered we were at the 24th mile and the front of the pack was already coming on strong behind us.
It was another beautiful morning, with the early fog and clouds lifting to bright sunshine, but still cool enough that the marathoners had perfect running weather. The excitement was even a bit contagious, as we walked along, staying out of the way of the runners, and listening to all the cheers of encouragement. I used to love to run, but I can’t imagine doing a marathon.
We gassed up at the Eugene Costco and headed north toward the town of Mercola and two more bridges that are within a short distance of each other. Even with coordinates and written directions, the Wendling Covered Bridge wasn’t easy to find. We were also towing the Tracker and were a bit concerned about just whether or not the road would have a turnaround if the bridge wasn’t crossable. We were lucky, and there was a wide area to park and actually turn around.
Just a few miles back toward Mercola, we found the Earnest Covered Bridge right on the main road and even drove through it. I have to say that by this time, I was losing track of where we were going and what we had seen. There may have been an easier way to do this, but I never figured it out. We just wandered and ambled around, at times backtracking a bit here and there.
We ambled north toward the little town of Crawfordsville, where the Crawfordsville Covered Bridge was in full view right along the main highway. No problem, just turn left here…and park here… and, well….now how to get back to the highway? After walking across the lovely bridge and enjoying the beautiful creek and flowering trees we jumped back into the MoHo and thought, well, maybe this road goes around and comes back out in Crawfordsville. We kept going, and going, and after a few miles of very steep ups and downs on a very narrow road, we came to a small turn around area. Mo just laughed and said, “think of it as an adventure”. It was easier to do that once we were actually able to turn around!
Finding out next bridge was a piece of cake, and the parking was easy as well. The Weddle Covered Bridge in Sweet Home is right downtown in the city park. The bridge spanned Thomas Creek for more than 50 years, but was bypassed and neglected.
“The deteriorated bridge eventually became a safety issue, and the span was scheduled to be demolished. This action sparked protests by local covered bridge enthusiasts. As the story goes, one person chained himself to a bulldozer to prevent the bridge’s demise.
The covered bridge enthusiasts engaged Senator Mae Yih, a local legislator who became a leader in saving Oregon’s covered bridges. Through her efforts, the Oregon legislature created the Oregon Covered Bridge Program which helped fund covered bridge maintenance and rehabilitation projects throughout the state. The Weddle Bridge became the first covered bridge project to receive grants under that program.”
The air was warm and the sunshine gorgeous and we lingered awhile, just appreciating the lovely site. We checked out the small Dahlenburg Covered Bridge in the park as well, built by the Sweet Home High School Building Trades class of 1989, as a class/community project. The completed 20 foot bridge allowed access from the school to Sankey Park, crossing Ames Creek.
Our original plans for the day were a bit ambitious, and with the afternoon waning Mo and I decided that we would simply go to Cascadia and then perhaps drive back to an RV park that we located in Lebanon, not too many miles back west.
On the way to Cascadia, we passed the Foster Reservoir and Green Peter Reservoir on the Santiam River. Linn County has some very nice parks with lovely campgrounds. We explored the main campground and decided that it would be a nice place to stay sometime with good access to wonderful little inlets for the kayaks. However, on this beautiful Sunday afternoon we were both just too bushed to pop those kayaks into the water and instead drove on east toward Cascadia for the last bridge of the day.
The Short Covered Bridge was worth the drive, and with its open sidewalls and the beautiful Santiam River, I added it to my list of favorites. We were a bit tired of worrying about turning around so unhooked the Tracker in Sweet Home and left the MoHo there in a parking lot. Interestingly, there were few lots where we could park easily, even at the grocery store, and the few empty lots had some very large No PARKING signs with threats of vehicles being towed away if not authorized. Finally we found a wide place in the road near the Safeway parking lot where we felt safe leaving the rig for a short time at least.
Once at the bridge, we enjoyed the open sides, the river, the beautiful roof timbers and the Howe Trusses before walking to the other side. Immediately we were greeted by a chorus of howls and barks and discovered that just across the street was a wolf breeder. Signs warned of the wolves in addition to advertizing the sale of wolf pups, but the howling made me wonder what it must be like to live next door to that guy!
On the way back to pick up the MoHo, we scrapped our plan to drive to Lebanon in favor of the lovely and very nearly empty River Bend Campground, along the Santiam River between Sweet Home and Cascadia, another Linn County Park. The price for seniors was $19. with electric and water and a dump station, the pads were the most level asphalt I think we have seen and the patio was clean, no mud anywhere cement. After parking in the mall parking lot, the quiet sound of the river below us and the wind in the trees was perfect.
Next post: To the Benton County Fairgrounds at Corvallis