No votes cast

Willamette River Bridge (Original)


First bridge over the Willamette River at Salem Oregon, 1886

Salem Public Library

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

View this photo at photos.salemhistory.net

BH Photo #279272


Lost Through truss bridge over Willamette on Center Street
Salem, Marion County, Oregon, and Polk County, Oregon
Collapsed during flood 1890
Collapsed in flood 1890
Through truss
Also called
Free Bridge at Salem
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.94494, -123.04346   (decimal degrees)
44°56'42" N, 123°02'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/496571/4976835 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 60206 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Destroyed by flood (892)
Lost (32,321)
Lost 1890 (29)
Lost during 1890s (263)
Marion County, Oregon (80)
Oregon (1,340)
Polk County, Oregon (22)
Pony truss (17,633)
Salem, Oregon (28)
Through truss (19,326)
Truss (38,718)

Update Log 

  • March 11, 2014: Photo imported by Dave King
  • March 10, 2014: Added by Dave King

Related Bridges 


  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com


Willamette River Bridge (Original)
Posted March 11, 2014, by Scott Gavin (trainnut1956 [at] charter [dot] net)

You'll find a lot of erroneous references stating that the Morrison Street bridge in Portland, Oregon was the first bridge built across the Willamette River in Oregon, most of which can be traced to Scott's History of the Oregon Country which was based mostly on Harvey W. Scott's acerbic editorials published in the Oregonian newspapers between the 1870s-1890s rather than actual facts. The order in which the Willamette River was bridged was this: The O & C railroad bridge at Harrisburg was the first. The Oregon Pacific Railroad bridge at Albany was the second bridge constructed across the Willamette. This bridge at Salem was the third, and was the first street bridge across the river. The Morrison street bridge at Portland was only the fourth bridge across the river, not the first, and only beat out the street bridge at Oregon City by three days.

This bridge collapsed during the flood of 1890 and it was discovered that it had been improperly built. The bridge builders, in an effort to save on construction costs, hadn't sunk the center pier down to bedrock. It was just sitting there on the mud, so when the flood waters rose and debris hit the pier, it was swept away and the bridge collapsed.