#38–Experiencing McCullough Bridges–2nd of 4 . . .

Once you know a little about McCullough bridges, you won’t just drive through or over them, you’ll start to experience them. The three bridges featured this week have all completed the major restoration and zinc cathodic protection that will guarantee their future for decades to come. These bridges include the most well known, the least known, and another example of McCullough’s engineering ingenuity.

Grand entrance to Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport.

* Yaquina Bay Bridge––This large bridge that crosses Yaquina Bay is probably the most well-known bridge on the coast and is definitely the most photographed. Its over-the-top 75th birthday celebration involved a month of activities in Newport, culminating in a parade where almost 1,000 bridge aficionados walked across the bridge. Even the predicted rain held off. This is one of two of McCullough’s large bridges that were built very close to the waves. The other one, the Alsea Bay Bridge, is no longer standing. This one still stands due to restoration and cathodic protection completed in three different sessions over a 10-year period on the reinforced concrete portions of the bridge and due to almost constant maintenance of the three main arches that are constructed of steel. Every part of this bridge is worth checking out, even the stairways. At each end of the bridge are two elaborately decorated stairways––one on each side––to the grassy areas below. You need to walk up these stairways and at least part way across the bridge. From any angle, it’s a beauty.

Cummins Creek Bridge at Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint

* Cummins Creek Bridge–– This small bridge built in 1932 is located between Yachats and Florence. And you would never know this bridge was anything special because the interesting part lies below the road deck. It is very similar to the Rocky Creek Bridge, covered in Part 1, with a graceful deck arch below, supporting the road deck. Because of the location of this bridge, you can not get a side view or see below the bridge unless you drive into Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint. You can see the arch below the bridge partially from the parking area. But  if you walk a short distance down a trail, you get a great view. This is the only bridge designed by McCullough on Highway 101 that is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Apparently, it is the Rodney Dangerfield of McCullough coastal bridges. I’m going to do some research and see why it was left off and what can be done to change that. Last time I visited Neptune SSV, two artists had their easels set up on the trail and were painting the bridge. It’s classic McCullough and needs to be listed on the National Register along with the other 11 coastal bridges he designed.

Tenmile Bridge with cross braces before redesign, 1936.

Tenmile Creek Bridge with straight bar across, 2012.

* Tenmile Bridge––This small fixed arch bridge, located between Yachats and Florence is almost identical to the Wilson River Bridge in Tillamook, covered in Part 1, and to the Big Creek Bridge down the road a few miles. These three were among the first bridges of this type in the United States and the first in the Far West when they were built in 1931. The fixed arch McCullough designed for these sites represents his engineering ingenuity. All three have to contend with water rushing past or washing over either from the flooding Wilson River or from high tides and McCullough had to design a bridge that could withstand these occasional onslaughts. The fixed arch design requires minimal support and practically holds itself up. This past weekend when I drove to Astoria, I noticed each of these bridges had a change from their original design. Photos in my book, Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, taken when Tenmile and Big Creek bridges were new, show cross bracing at the ends of the bridges. That is no longer the case. The X-shaped cross bar

was cut off at the middle of the X and straight bars extended to each side. This was true on each end of all three bridges. Most likely the redesign was required to accommodate larger, squarer vehicles. I’ll do some research and see if I can learn more about the why, when, and how of the redesign and post in a future blog.

I hope you enjoy experiencing the bridges as much as I do.


This weekend, I’ll venture into new territory in Brookings on Friday, attend the South Coast Writers Conference in Gold Beach on Saturday, and give a PowerPoint presentation in Port Orford on Sunday. I’ll let you know how it all plays out next Friday.


Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at http://www.connectflorence.com or pacpub@oregonfast.net. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; and in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society.


Judy’s PowerPoint presentations with book sales/signings:

February 19, Sunday, 3 p.m.––Port Orford Library, Port Orford (1421 Oregon Street [Hwy 101])

March 29, Thursday, 7 p.m.––Coos Bay Public Library, Coos Bay (525 Anderson Avenue)

Judy guest on TV show:

March 13, Tuesday, 2:30––The Author’s Forum, a talk show with host Dr. Veronica Esagui, chiropractic physician, author, and public speaker, on Portland area public access television (channel TBA)

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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