Tuesday, April 23, 2013

We've Got You Covered

Since Valley River Center allows two nights "boondocking" right next to a beautiful running / biking trail and the Willamette River, we took the day to search out rarities for which Lane County is famous. Lane County maintains more covered bridges (14 are open to traffic) than any other county west of the Mississippi, and for this west coast couple, covered bridges are rare!

We started at the Pangra bridge near Lowell, simply because is was the first of a cluster relatively close to our starting location. This bridge uses the two longest single piece bridge timbers ever cut in Oregon. Built in 1938, the upper chords show the marks of the adze used to final shape them. The all white paint is typical of nearly all of Lane County's covered bridges.

The Unity bridge featured a full length awning window on the upstream side for traffic safety since the bridge forms one leg of a four way stop.

The Lowell bridge was originally built in 1945 and raised 6 feet in 1953 before the Dexter Dam was completed. It is the widest covered bridge in the county and is no longer used for traffic. It is now nicely organized as an interpretive center.

This hand-built model of the Lowell bridge clearly shows the design of the Howe truss that was used in nearly all of these bridges. The diagonal wood members are in compression and the vertical steel rods are in tension.

Bridge builders preferred to use solid beams. This piece, removed when a bridge was rebuilt, is approximately 16 x 30 inches. Lane County built wood bridges through the end of WWII in order to divert steel to the war effort.

The Office bridge, in Westfir, is the only red bridge in the county. It's also the longest covered bridge in Oregon.

Originally built by Western Lumber Co to connect the company town and office to the mill, it was designed with a triple truss for use by logging trucks.

It's the only bridge in the county with a separate covered walkway, making it easy for the mill workers to walk to work. The mill burnt in 1980 and is now replaced by a trailhead parking lot.

We visited almost half of the covered bridges in the County today. Lane County has a brochure telling a bit about each bridge. A Point Of Interest file from the POI Factory for the GPS was very helpful.

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