Narrow bridges

Picturesque covered bridges are a big tourist draw at Cottage Grove

Covered Bridge Brewing Group has a reputation as a thriving brewery, as well as cafe, serving locals and tourists alike in its new space in downtown Cottage Grove. And while many people come for a beer or a cup of coffee, many stop just because of the name.

Chrissy Chapman, the brewery’s business manager, said so many people have stopped to ask questions about Cottage Grove’s famous covered bridges that they have started keeping tourist brochures on hand for handing out.

“I would say they’re just a really unique historical thing that we have here at Grove,” Chapman said of the bridges. “It’s a cool tourist attraction, it’s a cool historical aspect of our city, and then people who didn’t even know they were a thing are educated and intrigued to find more covered bridges than we have here in. the state of Oregon. “

Oregon has more than 50 covered bridges in total, more than any neighboring state, most scattered throughout the Willamette Valley and the foothills of the Cascade and Coast Range mountains. In rainy western Oregon, covered bridges were a convenient way to protect bridges from moisture and rot.

Cottage Grove is home to six of the state’s Covered Bridges – one of the largest concentrations in the state, and enough that the town has dubbed itself the “Covered Bridge Capital of the West.”

A small community about 20 miles south of Eugene, Cottage Grove has a few other claims to fame, most notably as the location for “Animal House,” “Stand By Me,” and Buster Keaton’s famous silent film “The General ”from 1926.“ But while tourists might take a look at Buster Keaton’s large mural or the Deathmobile replica from “Animal House,” the vast majority seem to be interested in covered bridges.

Shauna Neigh, CEO of the Cottage Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, said nine in ten tourists who stopped by the local visitor center were there for bridges. The house has printed thousands of brochures on the covered decks and has produce a video extolling their virtue.

“I think it’s nostalgic, I think people want to see part of the real history and want to experience part of the real history,” Neigh said. “They are educational, and besides the fact, they are beautiful.”

Fall foliage surrounds the Centennial Bridge over the Coast Fork Willamette River in downtown Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ with six bridges around town and more nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

The view from inside the Dorena Bridge, just outside Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the West” with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

The Currin Bridge crosses the River Row just outside Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the West” with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

Richard Meyers, Managing Director of Cottage Grove, said one of the main drivers of covered bridge tourism in the city is the Panoramic covered bridges cycle path, one of 17 designated scenic cycle paths in Oregon. The bike path takes cyclists on a 36-mile journey along the River Row, around Lake Dorena, and to several covered bridges, starting and ending in downtown Cottage Grove.

In 2014, Travel Oregon and the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation commissioned a study examine the economic impact Scenic Bike Paths, which found that the Scenic Covered Bridges Bike Path injected nearly $ 1.4 million into the local economy – a statistic the city still sees as a benefit to its investment in covered bridges.

“Bridges are a bit static, but they’re something that just draws people in, and people love to see and experience them,” Meyers said. “We’re on the map with some of these places in Pennsylvania and Vermont.”

Although there are six covered bridges around town, Meyers said the pride and joy of Cottage Grove was the Chambers Railroad Bridge, a towering attraction which the town says is the only bridge in covered railroad remaining west of the Mississippi River.

The city has recently started hosting events on the oversized covered bridge, including a wine pairing event and a screening of ‘The General’.

Locals and visitors alike should expect to see more events on the bridge in the future. Stephen Lawn, president of tourism for the chamber of commerce, said city officials are looking to bring the covered bridge festival back to Oregon and are also looking for ways to attract visitors who will be in Eugene for the Championships. athletics world 2022 next summer.

For now, bridges remain a regular draw for covered bridge enthusiasts and other visitors looking for an interesting attraction. A tour of Cottage Grove’s six covered bridges can be completed in an afternoon, giving you plenty of time to explore all that the town has to offer.

Here’s how to see Cottage Grove’s covered bridges:

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

Fall foliage surrounds the Centennial Bridge over the Coast Fork Willamette River in downtown Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ with six bridges around town and more nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

CENTENARY BRIDGE

Built in 1987 from the debris of two dismantled covered bridges, the Centenary bridge is one of the area’s most visible covered bridges, on display in downtown Cottage Grove. The bridge crosses the Coast Fork Willamette River in Veterans Park, a few blocks from many shops and restaurants, including Stacy’s Covered Bridge Restaurant, a covered bridge themed restaurant.

Located in Veterans Park at East Main Street and North River Road in Cottage Grove.

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

The Chambers Railroad Bridge is the only remaining covered railroad bridge in Oregon, which now sits in a park in Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

ROOMS RAIL BRIDGE

The pride and joy of Cottage Grove, the Chambers Railway Bridge is a narrow and imposing structure designed specifically for trains. Originally built in 1925, it was restored in 2006 with a grant from the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program. Today, it serves a neighborhood just south of downtown.

Located at 1231 S. River Road in Cottage Grove.

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

The Currin Bridge crosses the River Row just outside Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

CURRIN BRIDGE

Built in 1883 and replaced in 1925, the Currin Covered Bridge over the Row River was closed to motor traffic in 1979 and reopened to pedestrians in 1995. The bridge is known for its original look: red on the sides, white on the front and back, with a tin roof wavy.

Located on Layng Road and Row River Road in Cottage Grove.

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

Fall foliage surrounds the Dorena Bridge, located just outside Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

DORÉNA BRIDGE

Sometimes called the Star Bridge, the Dorena Covered Bridge Originally provided access to Star Ranch on the River Row at the base of Lake Dorena. The bridge was built in 1949 and rehabilitated in 1996. It is one of the most beautiful and easily accessible bridges, with parking next to Row River Road.

Located at 37080 Row River Road in Dorena, approximately 10.5 miles east of Cottage Grove.

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

The Stewart Covered Bridge is closed to visitors, located next to the road on Mosby Creek. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the “Covered Bridge Capital of the West” with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

STEWART BRIDGE

The Stewart Covered Bridge, built in 1930, survived a flood that cracked its lower ropes and heavy snowfall that collapsed its roof. Today, access to the bridge is prohibited, although it is visible from a parking lot on the side of the road and from a path that descends to Mosby Creek below.

Located at 34201, chemin Garoutte in Cottage Grove.

Cottage Grove Covered Bridges

A car crosses the Mosby Creek Bridge, which crosses Mosby Creek outside of Cottage Grove. Cottage Grove promotes itself as the ‘Covered Bridge Capital of the West’ with six and more city bridges nearby.Jamie Hale / The Oregonian

MOSBY STREAM BRIDGE

Lane County’s oldest covered bridge, the Mosby Creek Covered Bridge (also known as the Layng Bridge), is also the only bridge in the Cottage Grove area still actively used. The bridge was built in 1920 and is named after pioneer David Mosby who had a land claim nearby.

Crossing it is a fun experience, but to see it on foot, park nearby Mosby Creek Trailhead for the Row River Trail, then walk a bit north and turn right on a trail that leads through the grass to the bridge on Layng Road.

Located at 77935 Layng Road in Cottage Grove.

– Jamie Hale; [email protected]; 503-294-4077; @HaleJamesB



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