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Spotlight on Excellence: Chambers Railroad Bridge

September 13, 2012

By Cara Kaser

Every month, Oregon Heritage is highlighting a person, organization, or project that has received an Oregon Heritage Excellence Award. Our last spotlight was on the Clatsop County Housing Authority and their outstanding work with the Owens-Adair building in Astoria. This month we’re focusing on the rehabilitation of the Cambers Railroad Bridge, a project that helped boost heritage tourism, local transportation, and all around heritage efforts in Cottage Grove.

The Chambers Railroad Bridge is unique as the only covered railroad bridge remaining in Oregon and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. In 2006, the then-81 year old bridge was dangerously close to falling down. Its walls had been removed, the timbers were rotting, and the roof was badly damaged. Fortunately, the City of Cottage Grove intervened before the bridge deteriorated further.

Through the perseverance, creativity, and dedication of its staff and citizens, Cottage Grove saved and rehabilitated the bridge as an important link in the community’s pedestrian and bicycle system. Five years and over $2 million later, the bridge stands proudly as a testament to Cottage Grove’s history and heritage. The design and execution of the project went beyond the simple restoration of a covered bridge; instead, it involved the conversion of the bridge into a portion of the local trail system without significantly affecting the structure’s character or outward appearance.

The restored bridge was formally dedicated on December 3, 2011, and is listed as part of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway. The bridge is now an important element in Cottage Grove’s tourism economy. More information about the history of the bridge and the project and photos are available on the City of Cottage Grove website.

For a complete list of the 2012 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award recipients visit www.oregonheritage.

Cara Kaser is the Heritage Outreach Specialist with Oregon Heritage and coordinates the Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards. Nominations for next year’s awards will be due in January 2013.

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