13. Jumping Covered Bridges – McKenzie River

One…Two…Three….JUMP!

Last summer when Sarah and I were hunting ghosts out in Marcola, Oregon, we stumbled across two old, white wooden covered bridges. Shielding the winding country roads from the wrath of Oregon weather, their paint was chipping and nature was creeping up to its boards on both sides; but their stature held strong.

As a guide geek (I work for a visitor information center in Eugene) I recognized the bridges as the Wendling & Earnest Covered Bridges, two of the twenty in Lane County both built in 1938. And so as a historical landmark, it was only appropriate to stop along the side of the road and take a picture.

But with a silly attitude – probably the sugar high from all the fresh strawberries we ate on the road – I turned to Sarah and said, “Let’s take a jumping photo!”

A suggested I think Sarah may now regret.

With a 10 second self timer and some good luck we leaped into the air throwing our arms wide and with the click of the camera, our bodies froze, hovering for all time in front of the bridge.

First jumping photo ever at the Wendling Covered Bridge

Nine months, hundreds of photos, 16 bridges, and lots-of-laughs later Sarah and I have officially dubbed this trip the Lane County Jumping Bridges tour.

From midnight jumps in my car headlights while lost driving home to Backstreet Boys blasting afternoons spent driving the Cottage Grove Covered Bridges scenic loops, we are 4 bridges away from finishing the tour. Check out my Picasa Web album of the jumping photos thus far.

This past weekend, one of our best friends who moved away to Baltimore, Maryland for work visited, so while taking her and her boyfriend around to see the sights we were lucky to check two more off our list and one more off our Summer Bucket List!

Goodpasture Covered Bridge

Got the photo of the second try.

Built in 1938 and restored in 1987, the Goodpasture Covered Bridge spans 165 feet over the McKenzie River and is tied with the Lowell Covered Bridge as the longest in the county. With a thunderous sound, traffic is still allowed to cross the historical landmark, located just off of highway 126 near Vida. The bridge, which cost $13,000 to build, was named after a pioneer family homestead and is today one of Lane County’s most visible and photographed covered bridge. Lining the walls of the bridge on either side, ten gothic, louvered windows send light streaming into the bridge and offer peek-a-boo glimpse up and down stream.

A unique feature of this bridge is also the staircase that leads down below the bridge along the McKenzie River’s swift rapids for a view of the bridge from the banks. Be careful: these steps can be slippery and the dirt river bank is very shallow.

Belknap Covered Bridge

Only three jumps to get this photo

Located about an hour from Eugene just off of Highway 126 following McKenzie View Drive (keep your eyes peeled for this road after the turn for hwy 19 – we missed it the first time), the Belknap Covered Bridge is surrounded by cool damp, leafy trees in a quiet turn of the road. With just the rushing water and light traffic for background noise, this bridge feels like a secluded sanctuary from the business of the highway. Constructed in 1966 and restored in 1990, the current bridge is actually the fourth bridge to span this section of the river.  The bridge remains open to traffic and was named for R.S. Belknap, who built the Belknap Springs Resort (keep driving out hwy 126 to take a detour dip in the springs).

Look out for posts about the last few bridges on the jumping tour.