#49–Back in the groove . . .


This year my life is not totally consumed by my book––Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges––as it was during 2010 when I was writing it and last year when I was placing it in new venues and giving presentations here, there, and everywhere. But my life is still definitely impacted by it.  After being gone to California for 23 days, here’s how the book affected this week.

Monday––I stopped by Bob Serra’s office (Pacific Publishing) and the 1,000 copies of the third edition had arrived while I was gone. Once again, very daunting to see all those boxes. I looked at a new copy and checked it carefully to make sure the changes we wanted to make were actually made. They were. We had checked proofs online before they went to press, but seeing the changes in the actual book was reassuring.

Tuesday––I met with the taxman who has handled the tax preparation for the book partnership regarding some tax questions I had. They will be taken care of as we make some changes to the partnership with the third edition. This is the nitty-gritty stuff that Dick usually handles. Starting with the third edition, I’ll be more involved with this end of it.

After I got home, I sent letters via email with attachments of PR material and photos of the book and author to three bookstores in Medford/Ashland area. I had called all three and stopped by one when I was there and mentioned that I would be sending this material. These should result in future sales.

One of the voice mail messages awaiting me after my trip was from Marge Williamson, an elderly Florence resident, who wanted to know how to get a copy of an article about a friend of hers, long-time Florence fisherman Walt Fossek that had appeared in Oregon Coast magazine some years ago. The article was about the man and his boat, The Otter. He had told her that I would be able to find it, since I used to be an editor and writer there. She wasn’t so sure and apologized for bothering me.

Since I have copies of nearly every issue we published during the 21 years I worked for the magazine, I knew I could probably find it. I remembered that it was written by Bret Yager and narrowed it down to the late 1990s. I looked through a few years worth of magazines before finding it in the November-December 1999 issue. Then I gave her a call.

She was surprised and pleased. Then I told her about how I had written a book that had two chapters with many quotes from Walt Fossek. She was interested and wanted to know where she could buy a copy. So I told her I could come by where she lived with a copy of the article as well as a copy of the book and that I could personalize it for her.  That’s exactly what I did, and it really made her day.


When the swing span is open, more than one method has been used over the years to stop traffic from driving off into the river.

Wednesday––Last week I wrote that I’d let you know if learned more about the Umpqua River Bridge modification of the four-foot barrier that used to rise into place on each end of the bridge before the swing span could open.

I talked to Steve Northup who has worked on the Umpqua River Bridge, among other central coast bridges, for the past several years. “The upgrade was made in the early 1990s,” he said. “Metal plates used to rise up out of the road deck about four feet high on both ends of the bridge to stop any vehicles that made it through the wooden gate. They operated similar to those found on aircraft carrier decks. The plates rose up out of pits that were about 4-feet deep and as gravel and chip trucks drove across the bridge, some of the gravel and wood chips ended up down in the pits fouling up the gears. I along with other ODOT workers would have to climb down and remove as much as we could of the gravel, wood chips, and other debris that had fallen in.”

At the time of construction, metal plates on each end rose up out of the road deck approximately four feet to stop any vehicle that made it past the wooden barrier.

It was not easy and needed to be done regularly. So the plates were removed, concrete filled in where the pits were, and the almost foot-square barriers that swing across the road on each end were installed. “It’s a better system, and more maintenance free. You can see where the pits were because the concrete is lighter than the pavement.” Next time I cross the bridge, I’ll look for those lighter sections.

Steve also added that about six years ago, the swing span was jacked up and the bearing in the middle that the swing span balances on was replaced. “All the ODOT engineers and workers,” he said,  “were very impressed with how well balanced the swing span is.” At 430 feet long, it was the largest one McCullough designed and the largest in the state of Oregon. Now it’s the only highway swing span still in use in Oregon.

Thursday––Another call on my voice mail awaiting me after my trip was from Frank Kilmer who is researching the old wagon roads between Florence and Cape Perpetua. I returned his call and found that he had read my book and was impressed with all the facts and research required, and he wanted to discuss some of the old wagon roads that I referred to that connected to the new highway as it was being built. He particularly was interested in the wagon road built in 1892 that went up over Sea Lion Point, down to sea level, and back up over Devils Elbow Point. We exchanged a lot of info.  I love talking to people who are passionate about their subject. If anyone out there has more info on the wagon roads between Cape Perpetua and Florence and wants to get into contact with Frank, let me know.

After Frank, I called all 14 venues in Florence to let folks carrying Crossings know that I was back and to call if they needed any more books. Since it has been rainy and not many visitors, no one needed more at this time. In a few weeks I’ll call again. I won’t wait for their calls.

Friday––Earlier this afternoon, I continued my proactive efforts. This time, I called all the venues that carry the book from Cape Perpetua to Lincoln City to let them know that I will be in their area next Tuesday and can deliver any copies of Crossings that they may want. I caught nearly everyone in; I still had to leave a few messages and have a couple of call-backs  tomorrow. Not counting those, three venues want more books. I’ll stop at Cape Perpetua, Yachats, and Newport next Tuesday. Gas is expensive, but so is postage. Crossings is not a lightweight book. In this situation, postage to these three places would cost more than the gas to deliver the books. So I’ll make the trip.

After the calls, I started writing this blog––chronicling the week’s adventures with the book. As I’ve said before, the fun continues.

Note: I’ll try to add more photos. So you might want to check back in a few days.


Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $4.99 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; in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society; in Made in Oregon stores throughout the state; and more and more bookstores, libraries, and museums in western Oregon.


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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