The Beautiful Bridges of the Oregon Coast… Part Two

One of many bridges designed by Conde McCullough in the 1930s Yaquina Bay Bridge is located next to Newport on the Oregon Coast.

Gorgeous skies provide a dramatic backdrop for the Yaquina Bay Bridge near Newport, Oregon.

Last Monday I posted a story and photos on the Cape Creek Bridge designed by Conde McCullough. Today I am going to feature two more of his bridges: the Yaquina Bay Bridge near Newport, and the Siuslaw Bridge near Florence. I first became aware of these two beauties when I used to visit my dad who managed a hotel on the coast for my brother in the late 70s. Marshall later sold the place, an action for which I have never quite forgiven him. Neither have I forgiven my cousins who had the luck of growing up in Newport.

The property my brother owned and my dad managed. Writers, artists, and professors from the University of Oregon stayed there for $10 a night in the 70s. Now it is an expensive Bed and Breakfast.

Gull Haven: The property my brother co-owned and my dad managed. Writers, artists, and professors from the University of Oregon stayed there for $10 a night in the 70s. Now it is an expensive Bed and Breakfast.

I was driving across the Yaquina Bay Bridge on my trip down the coast last fall when I thought, damn, I have to get a photo of this (above). Being by myself meant I was designated photographer. You know all the warnings about driving and using your cell phone, or driving and texting— they should add driving and taking photos. Enough said. Once I got across the bridge I found a side road where I was able to get out of the car and take Highway Patrol approved photos.

Yaquina Bay Bridge near Newport, Oregon.

A side view of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. The gull on the right added a little action.

The Yaquina Bay Bridge on the Oregon coast designed by Conde McCullough.

A close up of the spans with the historic Newport waterfront in the background.

I spent the night at a delightful campground next to the Florence Marina. This gave me the opportunity to walk over to the Siuslaw Bridge and spend time admiring it. The bridge was built under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Public Works Administration during the Great Depression. It was one of hundreds of projects across the nation designed to put Americans back to work. Both Peggy’s dad in Pennsylvania and my dad in Iowa benefited from this program. Some 140 men worked on the Siuslaw Bridge. It was opened March 31, 1936.

The bridge under construction. (Photo from display next to the bridge.)

The bridge under construction. (Photo from display next to the bridge.)

Ever the artist, McCullough incorporated Art Deco, Moderne, Gothic and Egyptian themes into his bridge.

Suislaw Bridge on the Oregon coast designed by Condi McCullough.

A view of the bridge as it looks today.

Siuslaw Bridge near Florence, Oregon.

A view of the bridge from the other side rendered in black and white., giving it the ‘old time’ feel.

Suislaw Bridge in Florence Oregon across the Suislaw River

I walked along the sidewalk going across the bridge to get this photo.

The walkway across the bridge.

The walkway across the bridge.

Structure on Siuslaw Bridge near Florence designed by Cond McCullough in the 1930s.

An art deco look? Or are we talking Egyptian here?

Siuslaw Bridge on the Oregon coast.

Having seen the bridge from both sides and on top, I decided to take a look underneath for my final view.

Oregon’s Coastal Bridges… Where Engineering, Environment, and Art Meet

Cape Creek Bridge north of Florence, Oregon was designed by Conde McCollough and built during the early 1930s.

Combining form and function, Cape Creek Bridge in Oregon is an example of how highway bridges can move vehicles, provide beauty, and fit into the natural environment.

With Earth Day 2015 coming up on Wednesday, I stopped to think about the battles we fought during the 70s to protect the environment. One of the toughest was against the highway lobby—bankrolled primarily by the oil industry. “Build more highways!” it and its allies screamed. Buried under a burgeoning population of automobiles, local and state transportation agencies usually agreed. Moving cars and trucks, not people and goods, was the objective. Most traffic engineers believed that their sole task was to move vehicles from point a to b as quickly and efficiently as possible. And they did their job extremely well. Nothing got in the way, including established communities, farmlands and valuable natural habitats. It was the bulldozer era of ‘pave Paradise and put in a parking lot.’ (Joni Mitchell)

In the mid to late 70s, I was working with a community group called the Modern Transit Society (MTS) that was fighting to bring light rail transit to Sacramento, California. The City Traffic Engineer was adamantly opposed to the idea. More dollars for mass transit meant fewer dollars for highways, and the Engineer, along with his counterpart in the County, had roads and freeways planned everywhere. My role with MTS was to oversee political strategy. At one point, relations became so tense between the traffic engineer and me that he would walk out of a room when I walked in. Eventually we won. Today, Sacramento has light rail lines stretching throughout the city and county.

Bridges built at the time, and also during the 50s and 60s, reflected the mania for moving cars. Function, not form, was what mattered. As a result, large ugly concrete structures with minimal aesthetic appeal often dominated urban and even rural landscapes. Bridge construction hadn’t always been that way.

The coastal bridges of Oregon reflect an earlier era. Many were constructed in the 1920s and 30s when Highway 101 was being built to connect coastal towns. Oregon was extremely fortunate to have Conde McCullough at the helm of the highway department’s bridge division for much of this time. Part civil engineer, part architect, and part artist, he believed that bridges should be built economically, efficiently, and aesthetically. His vision lives on today, as any trip down the Oregon Coast quickly demonstrates.

Conde McCollough served as Oregon's state bridge engineer from 1919 to 1935, following which he spent a couple of years designing bridges along the Pan American Highway in Central America.

Conde McCollough served as Oregon’s state bridge engineer from 1919 to 1935, following which he spent a couple of years designing bridges along the Pan American Highway in Central America. (Photo from information sign on Highway 101.)

Today I am going to feature one of McCullough’s creations, the Cape Creek Bridge located on Highway 101 north of Florence, Oregon, and a small park that lies below the bridge. Later, I will do posts on two of his other bridges plus a modern pedestrian and bike bridge in Redding, California that is breathtaking.

Cape Creek Bridge north of Florence, Oregon on Highway 101.

Another view of the Cape Creek Bridge, this time including Cape Creek. It had been raining hard, as reflected by the creek’s muddy waters.

Looking out from a span of the Cape Creek Bridge onto the small ocean cove the creek empties into.

Looking out from a span of the Cape Creek Bridge onto the small ocean cove the creek empties into.

Cumulous clouds outline sea stacks in Cape Cove on the Oregon Coast.

Small islands in Cape Cove outlined by the dramatic sky. Sea gulls are gathered in the lower left corner.

One of the sea gulls takes flight. I was walking along behind it, posed to takes its photo when it flew.

One of the sea gulls takes flight. I was walking along behind it, poised to takes its photo when it flew. There are three things I like about the picture: the wings, the gulls left foot as it runs, and the reflection.

The tide rolls onto shore at Cape Cove on the Oregon Coast near Florence, Oregon.

The tide rolls in to Cape Cove.

Low tide exposes the beach at Cape Cove off of Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast.

And the tide rolls out.

Cape Creek Bridge in Lane County on the Oregon Coast.

A final perspective on the Cape Creek Bridge. The bridge is 619 feet (188.6 meters) long and was designed to look like a Roman aqueduct. NEXT BLOG: Earth Day