The state of Oregon has one of the largest collections of covered bridges found anywhere in the United States. A large number of those are found right in southern Oregon. While not necessarily in Jackson County, there are enough here to satisfy the curiosity of bridge aficionados.
One is right here in Eagle Point, but it is just one of two in the immediate vicinity. There is another just off South Fork Little Butte Creek Road, very close to Doveland Nursery, just a few miles beyond the unincorporated community of Lake Creek. There is another at McKee Bridge on the Applegate Road in the small community there, and the fourth is in the city of Wimer.
The bridge at Wimer is the very one that collapsed a few years ago, and it was then rebuilt by a community unhappy at losing their iconic bridge. None of the above bridges are open to automobile traffic, but foot traffic alone. The old bridges were quite susceptible to wear and deterioration from weather, and as a result, have had to be closed to the rigors of withstanding vehicle traffic.
Another covered bridge, a well preserved specimen is near the Applegate Trail Interpretive Center in Sunny Valley, just a few miles north of Grants Pass. This bridge, built in 1925 spans 105 feet, and the cost of construction was just over $21,000.
The Antelope Creek Bridge, that now spans Little Butte Creek in Eagle Point reaches a very short 58 feet, and was built originally on Antelope Creek some 10 miles southeast of Eagle Point. Originally the Antelope Creek Bridge was listed on the Registry of Historic Places, but was removed from the registry because the windows had been altered. It has since been replaced on the Registry.
The Lost Creek Bridge was even shorter at a mere 39 feet. It was constructed in 1919 and was nearly lost during the 1964 flood. It is open to foot traffic only and is four miles south of Lake Creek.
The 122-ft. McKee Bridge was built in 1917. The community near the bridge was a stopping-off point between Ruch and the mining community to the south. It was used for vehicular traffic from 1917 until 1956 when the bridge was declared unsafe. A major effort and fundraiser was launched to restore the bridge in the 1980s and is open to foot traffic only.
The Grave Creek Bridge in Sunny Valley, to the north of Grants Pass is 105-ft. in length and was built in 1920. The cost seems a modest $21,000 by today’s standards. This is another fine example of the style of bridges built in the western portion of the state in the early 1900s.
The roof portion, mostly shake roofs, were necessary to keep the water and weather from the road way. Built of native woods, they were susceptible to decay, much more so than steel and concrete structures of today. It is unusual that they have survived as well as they have, and it is a sure thing they wouldn’t have without the roof protecting the roadway.
These treasures are testament to the spirit of the earlier peoples of the southwest part of the state and are there for all to enjoy. Why not take a trip to one of the locations listed here and step back into the pages of history if even for a short time?