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Rough Hewn Romance: The Covered Bridges of Linn County

by Grant McOmie

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

Posted on September 18, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:35 PM


Is it time for you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday city life?

Perhaps to unwind on a backcountry byway that will take you into a chapter of Oregon history?

Grant McOmie recently followed a rural trail to adventure that he says is guaranteed to restore your soul on a relaxing drive through the Covered Bridges of Linn County.



I am a big fan of Oregon's little roads; you know, the ones without numbers.

Linn County has a few and sometimes these roadways let you set your clock back too - on a journey into unexpected bliss!


Bill Cockrell, President of the Covered Bridge Society of Oregon, recently joined me for an afternoon tour across Linn County to see and admire some of the county's historic covered bridges.

"You think of a Covered Bridge," noted Bill, "and you think of horses and buggies! You just want to relive that period of a hundred years ago...when times were slower. A romantic time, even if it is our minds - may not have been true, but it sure feels like it."

It feels like a Huck Finn sort-of -world at Shimanek Covered Bridge - a gorgeous beauty decked out in "Navajo Red" colored paint and it spans Thomas Creek.

It is one of eight covered bridges in Linn County according to Cockrell, who said that most of the covered bridges were built in the 1930's when big timber was abundant and cheaper to build.


"That 'Navajo Red' is the only one in Linn County of that color," added Cockerell. "While inside this bridge it is painted white - that white on the inside, plus light coming through the louvered windows makes for better visibility and so it is safer."

Safety is important these days because traffic roars past at a shattering pace - a far cry from slower days of the past century.

Still, there are other covered bridges that are off the beaten path and hint of bygone times.

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For example, Hannah Covered Bridge is picture-postcard perfect!


This stunning whitewashed covered bridge was built in 1936 and offers a bit of a Norman Rockwell kind of American moment.


Cockrell said, "People just love this type of bridge because you can look out of it - you can see the fishermen downstream or people swimming too It really is nearly like walking across any uncovered bridge."

Hannah Bridge may have you wondering, why did they cover the bridges in the first place?

CocKrell said it was simple economics!

"An uncovered bridge will last eight, ten years tops. But a covered bridge with a cedar roof could last forty or fifty years with proper maintenance."

As you will also discover, there is plenty of water running under the Covered Bridges of Linn County, so don't be surprised if you end up at ODFW's Roaring River Hatchery.
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This is a place that raises real whoppers - the kind with fins.


Seventy percent of Oregon's catchable hatchery trout are raised at Roaring River Hatchery.

Tim Schamber, the Roaring River Hatchery Manager, provided a tour and explained the state's program:


"The fun part of my job is making them aware and getting people involved in what we do here. So we try for interactive displays and exhibits...we try to put as much energy as possible toward that type of education."

Last winter, we showed viewers how that energy was put into action when we visited a Visitor Friendly Hatchery and then a classroom full of enthusiastic students at Banks Elementary School.

You see, Roaring River Hatchery donates 100,000 trout eggs to hundreds of Oregon classrooms where the youngsters raise the eggs into baby fish.

It's a successful and unique environmental education program called "Eggs to Fry."

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Not far from the Roaring River Hatchery, you'll enjoy a chance to relax at Larwood Wayside - only site in the state where a river flows into a creek.


It's called Crabtree Creek and it is where you will find Larwood Covered Bridge and it was built seventy years ago.

Bill said that he believes the Covered Bridges of Linn County will last even longer.

"I think they're here to stay - for another hundred years at least. I sure hope so!"

He also noted that Oregon has more (49 authentic) Covered Bridges than anywhere else in the country, so it is something all Oregonians should be proud of and get out to see and enjoy.

You might consider a tour through "The Covered Bridges of Linn County" a part of your entry in a unique travel contest. It's called the Oregon 150 Challenge and it offers a unique dream vacation as a grand prize.