4 votes

Center Street Bridge (Old)


Center Street Bridge over the Willamette River in Salem, Oregon, 1945

Photographer: Ben Maxwell, 1945

Oregon State Archives, Salem Public Library, #117

View this photo at photos.salemhistory.net

BH Photo #180025



Marion-Polk Inter County Bridge over Willamette River in Salem, Oregon. The bridge was also known as the Center Street Bridge. According to the Salem History Project web site: "This third Center Street Bridge was dedicated in a burst of patriotic fervor on July 30, 1918. The historical record shows that Frank Davey delivered the dedication address. Program Chairman was F.T. Wrightman assisted by W.H. Dancy. Others helping were Frank Smith, Marshal; Charles Archered was Auctioneer; and Henry W. Myers, head of the Willamette chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross was the beneficiary of the $3000 raised by the various concessions. These included postcards, lunches, and the privileges of being first. Chas. H. Vick and Elbert A. Thompson paid $500 to be the first to drive a vehicle across the bridge. The vehicle in question was a Fordson tractor. Mr. Vick owned the agency it came from. There was an afternoon parade that day and the local newspaper reported that an estimated 20,000 people watched it. (Salem's population at that time was about that number). Dedication of the bridge was on a platform underneath the east approach to the bridge. Following the dedication two Red Cross workers, Miss Catherine Fowle and Miss Gladys Bartholomew, raised semaphores allowing traffic to pass. "Little Miss Rowena Eyre" either scattered flowers on the roadway or pulled a ribbon that released them. Mrs. William Colder of Polk County paid $100 to be the first to turn on the lights illuminating the bridge."

(Oregon State Archives, Salem Public Library, Photo #12123 Description)


Lost cantilevered pony truss bridge over Willamette River on OR 22 EB
Salem, Marion County, Oregon, and Polk County, Oregon
Replaced by new bridge
Built 1917-18, Approaches Replaced 1953, Main Spans Replaced 1982-83
- Charles H. Purcell (Bridge Engineer)
- Coast Bridge Co. of Portland, Oregon (Steel Construction)
- Lewis W. Metzger (Design Engineer)
- Robert Wakefield of Portland, Oregon (Contractor)
The Center Street Bridge was multi-span truss bridge over the Willamette River designed by Lewis W. Metzger under the direction of Charles Purcell. The main span was a 156-foot cantilevered double intersecting polygonal Warren pony truss span. The main span was flanked by 363-feet of approach span from the east bank and 1313.7-feet from the west.
The east approach consisted of three 32-foot reinforced concrete deck girder spans followed by two steel Pratt deck trusses measuring at 113.5-foot and 153.5-foot respectively.
The west approach began with an 856-foot timber trestle with three steel Pratt deck trusses measuring 153.5-feet, 154.7-feet, and 153.5-feet.
Length of largest span: 156.0 ft.
Total length: 1,833.0 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 15.5 ft.
Also called
Marion-Polk Inter County Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.94417, -123.04306   (decimal degrees)
44°56'39" N, 123°02'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/496603/4976748 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 46376 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 5, 2016: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • September 29, 2016: New photo from Dave King
  • November 17, 2011: Photo imported by Michael Goff
  • September 29, 2010: Added by Michael Goff

Related Bridges 



Center Street Bridge
Posted July 12, 2016, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

From what I can find the history of the bridge is as follows....

Built: 1917-18

Approaches replaced: 1953

Approaches widened, added and modified various years in 1960's & 70's.

Main spans replaced: 1982-84.

These dates are all based off the available plan sheets in ODOT's system.

I hope this helps clear up any questions.


Center Street Bridge
Posted July 9, 2016, by Mike Goff (michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I will check into this date issue when I get a chance. I'll be doing an inspection on the replacement bridge soon.


Center Street Bridge
Posted July 8, 2016, by Dave Cox (runnindingo [at] gmail [dot] com)

I can assure you that the bridge was not torn down in 1969. I was a resident of Salem from 1975-80. I last drove over that particular bridge in Nov-80 as I sadly moved south to Cali.

I remember walking across the bridge in 76 as a big truck drove over. The bridge shook so much as to make me nervous and wonder if the bridge was past its time.

I also remember the traffic was always backed up during morning rush hour adding additional weight to the already stressed bridge. I often waited and watch the light cycle 3 times before I got across the bridge.

I can assure you that the demo date in this article is incorrect.

Center Street Bridge
Posted May 27, 2013, by Pat Henderson (pwdh88[at]peak [dot] org)

I recall that one of the main reasons this span was replaced in 1969 was that a horizontal overhead beam on the western side was heavily damaged by an oversized log truck load. The bridge was too old and the damage too severe to justify repairing it, so it was torn down and replaced by the present span.

-- Pat Henderson


Center Street Bridge
Posted April 17, 2012, by Charles Mathias (cfmcfm [at] earthlink [dot] net)

You might want to check the removal date. I believe it was removed in the mid-1980's, not 1969.