Life at the Running Y

Life at the Running Y
Life at the Running Y

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ten Covered Bridges! Cottage Grove Area and East of Eugene

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.

our route this morning, 2 miles on the West Bank Path and then two miles back on the East Bank PathOne of the finest parts of camping for free at the Eugene mall is access to the beautiful Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path System along the Willamette River.  We woke in the morning before daylight to the sound of footfalls beside us along the pathway.  Eugene folks are by and large a fit, healthy bunch, with running, exercise, and healthy food a big part of the culture. Maybe it was just that we were on the running route, but I haven’t seen so many svelte people in a long time.

biking on a saturday morningWe decided to cross the bridge near the MoHo to the West Bank Path for the two mile walk to the next bridge across the river and returned two miles on the East Bank Path.  Eugene was cool and misty that morning, but the leaves on the huge cottonwoods had popped and everything was that bright neon backlit green even with gloomy skies.

By the time we got on the road for our day of explorations, the sun was out most of the time with beautiful blue skies to enhance the scenery. Our first planned bridge was in the tiny town of Drain, at the furthest southern extent of what we wanted to see.  There are many bridges near Myrtle Creek and farther south, but we decided that we could visit those another time from home.  The easy route would have been the interstate, but who wants that?!  We chose instead to return to Territorial Highway and follow the back roads all the way to Drain. 

Kings Estate Winery south of EugeneThe most beautiful valley opened up in front of us, filled with farms and orchards and beautiful vineyards. On the western skyline we saw what looked like some sort of castle, and turned out to be the Kings Estate Vineyards, rivaling anything we have seen in the wine country of California.  I wished that I had put on something other than comfy sweats since the place was a bit intimidating.  We drove around but declined to treat the proprietors to our sweatshirty presence.

Entering the little town of Drain was a treat.  So many times I have passed the “Drain” exit on the freeway and wondered why a town would be named Drain.  I still have no idea why, but do know a bit more of the history and that it is a delightful little place, with everything you could need; post office, grocery store, fabric store, hardware store, gas station, and a beautiful community center, library and city park.  Housing around 1,000 folks for the past  50 years or so and 500 for the previous 50 years, the town is small but surprisingly stable.Pass Creek covered bridge in the park at Drain

The park was beautiful, with the Pass Creek bridge dismantled from its original location and restored and relocated in the idyllic park.  The setting was lovely, and quite different from what we had seen previously.

Continuing back north along Highway 99 toward Cottage Grove, we found the

 Chambers Railroad Covered Bridge 6 Chambers Railroad Covered Bridge

the only remaining covered railroad bridge in the state of Oregon.  It has been beautifully restored and is no longer in use except for pedestrians. The ironwork image of a big steam engine along the northern wall was an interesting touch.  There are several interpretive signs with the history of Cottage Grove, the importance of the railroad there and stories of life in Cottage Grove when it was a town completely focused on timber.

Traveling east from Cottage Grove toward the Dorena Reservoir along Mosby Creek Road, we found another five bridges.  Each unique in its own way, and each with a story. 

Mosby Creek7 Mosby Creek Bridge

 Stewart8 Stewart BridgeDorena9 Dorena Bridge Currin 10 Currin BridgeThese bridges are within a few miles of each other and once again we traveled roads we might have never seen otherwise through rural parts of Oregon just off the main highways. Currin was a favorite with its red sidewalls, and the red glow from the high interior windows.

We drove back north toward Highway 58 and traveled the short distance east toward Lowell. Just south of Dexter, a few miles down a back road was the Parvin covered bridge.

11 Parvin BridgeBack again on the main highway, the familiar site of the Lowell covered bridge greeted us as we drove along the southern shore of Dexter reservoir.  Highway 58 is one of my major driving routes from Klamath Falls to Portland, but I have never actually stopped at the Lowell bridge.  This bridge is big and beautiful, with lovely windows and an especially informative and well done visitor center as part of the bridge and the parking area. The interior signboards are illuminated from within so they are easy to enjoy inside the dim light of the bridge.12 Lowell Bridge

From Lowell we drove north to the tiny town of Unity , and the Unity covered bridge.  This little bridge was a favorite, small but perfect.13 Unity Bridge

Driving back west on the back road to Jasper, we found the last bridge of the day, the Pengra covered bridge.14 Pengra Bridge

As I am writing this, I am feeling a bit the same that I did on the day we actually traveled this route.  The bridges are all running together and I am getting confused again as to which is which!  I am so glad that I have the photos to remind me of the special features of each one. Ten bridges in a day is a lot, even when they are are as closely spaced as this group. We were happy to get back to the MoHo tucked away along the river at the mall and enjoy a relaxing evening.