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Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge 37-20-40

Photos 

Chambers Railroad Bridge

Chambers Railroad Bridge. Near Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Photo taken by Larry Matthews on October 3, 2004

BH Photo #111837

Map 

Street View 

Description 

The Chambers Bridge is the last covered railroad bridge in Oregon. It was built by the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern Railroad for a logging spur which brought logs to the Frank Chambers Mill in Cottage Grove. The actual use for the bridge was short, as the sawmill burned in 1943 and rail traffic no longer crossed the bridge. Although the bridge trusses are now exposed, at one time the siding completely enclosed the structure to afford maximum protection for the timbers. In the typical construction for railroad spans, truss members of herculean proportions were necessary to support the moving weight of rail payloads. The hand hewn trusses in the Chambers Bridge, like others, were preferred over millsawed timbers because the wood fibers crushed by saw teeth allowed moisture to more readily enter the axe-formed surfaces.

The western approach to the bridge has been removed to make way for the easement of South River Road. Abandoned for years, the bridge has been a frequent target of arsonists, as the charred timbers attest. Fortunately, the bridge has not succumbed to fire.

Built to accommodate steam engines pulling logging trains, the sides of the Chambers Bridge reach much higher than highway covered spans and give the bridge an appearance of being much longer than its actual length.

The bridge was inspected under the 1993-95 Covered Bridge Program. The bottom chords show extensive decay, and in some places three of the four members are rotted. In several places all three members of the floor beams are rotted. Corbels are decayed and crushed, which makes the house lean as much as 12 inches to the upstream side.

(Reference: Roofs Over Rivers, by Bill and Nick Cockrell)

Facts 

Overview
Covered Howe through truss bridge over Coast Fork Willamette River in Cottage Grove
Location
Cottage Grove, Lane County, Oregon
Status
Open to pedestrians
History
Built 1925 to transport logs to J.H. Chambers Mill; abandoned 1951, Dismantled 2010, Reconstructed in 2011
Builders
- Hamilton Construction of Springfield, Oregon (Reconstruction Contractor)
- J. E. Chambers (Original Builder)
- OBEC Consulting Engineers of Eugene, Oregon (Reconstruction Engineers)
Railroads
- Oregon, Pacific & Eastern Railroad (OP&E)
- Rail-to-trail
Design
Covered Howe through truss
Dimensions
Span length: 78.0 ft.
Total length: 78.0 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 29, 1979
Also called
OP&E - Chambers Covered Bridge
OP&E - Coast Fork Willamette River Covered Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.78937, -123.06969   (decimal degrees)
43°47'22" N, 123°04'11" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/494393/4848481 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Cottage Grove
Elevation
644 ft. above sea level
Inventory numbers
NRHP 79002081 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
WGCB 37-20-40 (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
BH 36274 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 10, 2015: Photo imported by Dave King
  • May 27, 2013: New photos from Larry Matthews
  • April 4, 2013: New Street View added by Mike Goff
  • October 1, 2012: New photos from Mike Goff
  • January 4, 2012: New photos from Michael Goff
  • December 5, 2011: Updated by Tony Dillon: Updated status and fixed wording to reflect that bridge was not demolished.
  • October 22, 2010: New photo from Larry Matthews
  • February 22, 2010: New photos from Michael Goff
  • March 14, 2009: Updated by Curtis Lee
  • February 17, 2008: Added by Larry Matthews

Related Bridges 

Sources 

Comments 

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

Marc, nice set of bridges! Could you identify them for me? Name, or location, or town, etc.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by Marc (mrscotti [at] dot [dot] state [dot] ny [dot] us)

Matt--

I don't know where you're from, but it's good to see that someone noticed our bridge maintenance and preservation efforts. There are several on-going statewide contracts and many local contracts dedicated to improving (and not replacing) existing bridges, including trusses.

A few are shown below. I have pictures of several hundred others if anyone is interested.

Marc

N.Y.S.D.O.T.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by Nathan Holth

Oregon does have an above average preservation record for metal and concrete bridges with the exception of the Gustav Lindenthal bridge they are reducing to scrap metal in Portland. Lindenthal was just as important of an engineer as Conde McCullough his bridge deserved more than dynamite.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by Matt Lohry

Mike,

Sorry, should have clarified, I wasn't referring to Oregon there; it was meant to be a very general statement--a few states, such as Oregon, Indiana and Texas are making valiant strides to protect and preserve their steel bridges, but overall, most of the states, especially the northeast corner (except maybe New York) have terrible preservation records with regard to steel bridges (especially Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine). They will preserve every wood bridge they can find while trashing the rest without regard to their historic value.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Matt,

Not to be a "homer" but Oregon has spent money resorting a few truss bridges in the past few decades. Don't get me wrong there is lots of work to be done in this department but it does happen. Not to mention the constant work they put into the rehabilitation and maintenance of the signature Conde McCullough era structures.

A few that come to mind are as follows...

1910 - Malheur River Bridge

http://www.bridgehunter.com/or/malheur/45C405058900274/

New decking, rails, steel members repairs.

1913 - Van Buren Bridge

http://www.bridgehunter.com/or/benton/272821000013/

Complete rehabilitation - Many steel repairs - Lots of $$$

1926 - South Fork Nehalem River Bridge

http://www.bridgehunter.com/or/tillamook/121704601776/

Nearly complete rehab. Member repairs, New paint, Joint repairs, ect.

I know other states are not doing nearly enough if anything, but I feel Oregon is ahead of the curve on bridge rehabilitation and maintenance.

MG

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by Matt Lohry

Right--looks like they re-used very little; you wouldn't catch them putting this kind of effort into restoring a steel truss like this. Speaking of, Robert, did you ever get that federal funding for your tool shed? :)

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 4, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Well...at least they used what they could and did the rest in-kind. Looks like it turned out good!

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 4, 2012, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The Chambers Covered Bridge was able to retain its historical status due to the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office’s take on maintenance/rehabilitation of a covered bridge. The basic interpretation is that a covered bridge is made of materials that are prone to wearing out and can therefore be replaced during general maintenance. So they took the stance that the bridges members could be replaced so long as they were replaced in kind with the same materials and dimensions.

I do stand corrected in regards to the amount of new timbers used on the Chambers Covered Bridge rehabilitation project.

I talked with an ODOT historian about the historic status of bridge. He informed me that the bridge required 75% new timbers and not the 100% that I interpreted while quickly visiting the bridge with my 4 year old son. The rehab/reconstruction also reused all the hanger rods and cast iron connection pieces. All timbers that were replaced were replaced in kind with the original dimensions and wood type as previously mentioned

A strong effort was put in to reuse as much original material as possible though the extent of the decay hampered these efforts to a certain degree.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 2, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

So if it has all new timbers in it then did it loose historical status?

The Moscow Covered Bridge in Indiana was rebuilt after a tornado heavily damaged it. The bridge was allowed to retain it's National Register status because it retained between 40-50% of the original materials.

I guess I'm a little surprised they didn't attempt to incorporate at least some of the original truss members into the Chambers Bridge.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 2, 2012, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The bridge has all new timbers. Though the original bridge had hand-hewn members, the reconstruction engineers did stick to sawn timber sections when rebuilding and left out the glu-lams. All of the timber is sawn to the dimensions of the old structure.

The old bridge had to be torn down before if fell down in early 2010. The rot had become so significant that there were localized failures and the bridge began leaning upstream even more than previously recorded (In 2003 the bridge was over 1-foot out of plum). A large wind storm in February of 2010 sealed the fate of the structure and an emergency replacement project was put in motion.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 2, 2012, by Bill Eichelberger (wallyum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I don't think there was any wood that was able to be salvaged, but some of the hardware was.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted October 1, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Are there any original timbers remaining in this bridge now? Everything I see in the pictures appears to be new wood.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted January 3, 2012, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I stopped by the bridge last week to check out the rebuild. The bridge is not quite finished, but is open to peds. The roof was not completed and some of the landscaping was yet to be finished. The new structure does rest on the old piers, and is an exact replica of the original. The city did not have to realign the road near the west abutment, they just constructed a switchback ramp to access the bridge. There is also an interesting information kiosk near the east end the offers information on the mill, railroad and the bridge. (photos coming soon)

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted January 2, 2012, by Scott Gavin (fatpiecat2 [at] charter [dot] net)

I believe the statement that the bridge was "rebuilt at a new location" is partially in error. Although I haven't visited the rebuilt bridge yet, I believe it was built on site and moved back into the original footings. I believe the street that cut through the west approach was relocated to allow the addition of a pedestrian ramp to give access to the rebuilt bridge, but unless I am sadly mistaken the new bridge is sitting on the original abutments at the original site.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted December 31, 2011, by Bill Eichelberger (wallyum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Thanks, Scott. Great link.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted December 9, 2011, by Scott Gavin (fatpiecat2 [at] charter [dot] net)

It's just south of Cottage Grove. Get off the freeway and drive into downtown Cottage Grove. Take the road south. It goes right past the bridge. It would be surprising if there aren't signs pointing the way to the bridge since it is now a city part, though it didn't used to be marked when it was in private hands. Go here for the whole story: http://www.cottagegrove.org/chambers.html

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted December 6, 2011, by Barry (bllauver [at] toad [dot] net)

Where was the sawmill located that made a siding or branch line worth the cost of building?

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted December 5, 2011, by Bill Eichelberger (wallyum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Any pics of the restoration?

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted December 5, 2011, by Jake Boone (jakeboone [at] gmail [dot] com)

The reconstruction is complete and the bridge is now back in place, and is now usable as a pedestrian/bicycle bridge.

Chambers Covered Railroad Bridge
Posted November 2, 2008, by Ryan Thompson (ragemanchoo [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Where exactly is this bridge? I can't find it. I've seen photos of it in the past but I can't remember where it is.