Sunday, September 19, 2004

Covered Bridge Tour

I read in the paper about a narrated tour of the covered bridges in and around Stayton. It was to be guided by a gentleman named Bill Cockrell and he wrote the book. Literally, he wrote the book on these "Roofs Over Rivers". I had to go. I tried coaxing the family, but no one wanted to go. We had done our own tour of the bridges last spring with Lauren, Dawn and Abel, but this time I was on my own. The tour started at 9:00 am and I got to ride a flat nosed rear pusher school bus on a 3 and half hour tour. I was as excited as a kid on his first day of school.

I had asked Bill if he would mind my making an audio recording of the tour and he said it wouldn't be a problem at all. I made almost an eighty minute minidisc from about 7 segments. Here you see Clarence Wood, an eighty eight year old, who as a young man of twenty helped to build the Hannah Bridge. His father in law gave the state the land for the bridge with the stipulation they hire Clarence to help. Clarence said as the young man in the crew he did all the odd jobs. But, for a year he and a crew of about 8 worked with nothing more than block and tackle, shovels hand saws and muscle to erect this beautiful covered bridge.

Martin Harding, on the left, is the Linn County engineer who oversees the bridges of the county. I think he said he had been at it for 30 or 40 years. He had a lot to say about how his crews with their limited funds were hard at maintaining these structures. Covered bridge maintanence costs ten percent of the bridges budget and account for less than three per cent of the bridges. Unfortunately, when decisions are made to deconstruct a covered bridge it may solely be based on funds not its historic importance. The Covered Bridge Society of Oregon is championing the fight to save and preserve our covered bridges.

The gentleman on the right is Bill our guide. He was really great with just enough facts and just enough humor to make the three hours go by very quickly.

In account of the day, I must say I had a great time. These bridges are wonderful just to look at and hear the sounds of the creek rushing underneath. To have as speakers and guides the fine folks of the Covered Bridge Society made this an educational and heartwarming experience. I want drive someone around to these bridges and share with them all the insight I gained from todays trip.

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