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The Value of Heritage: Saving a “treasure of the McKenzie”

October 2, 2020

Here at Oregon Heritage we talk about the value of heritage A LOT. We understand and the people who help preserve Oregon’s heritage understand, but it’s getting entire communities to understand they value it, they just don’t know it.

The value to communities is evident in the the downtown restaurant people choose because it’s in a cool historic building, it’s the drive people take in the fall to see the historic covered bridges surrounded by fall colors, it’s the majestic barn in the field that they stop on the side of the road to take a picture of, it’s the crowds of people who attend annual heritage tradition event, and so much more.

Most recently, the value has become evident during the devastating wildfires with the heroic efforts community members and firefighters have taken to purposely save historic places that are important to the community.

Once such story is that of the Goodpasture Bridge, a historic covered bridge in Vida that at one point was surrounded by the Holiday Farm fire. Even as we write this, that fire is still not 100% contained. Five firefighters, initially skeptical they could save it, rushed to the bridge and covered it with protective foam as the fire approached. Dave Breitenstein, one of the five that rushed to the bridge’s defense took a moment to take a video of this effort while the fire raged around them.

KEZI ran a story on this effort and included the video shot by Dave Breitenstein. You can view the article and the news piece here:

In an interview with KEZI Capt. David Sherwood, one of the crew involved, really speaks to the value of this historic place to the community: “It is a treasure of the McKenzie. The importance of it I think will ring true for many years to come because if  it’s standing now. I just hope people can use that as a symbol of inspiration to continue to be in this community,” (

Let’s take a few moments to celebrate the places that survived, but acknowledge was has been lost. More will be revealed in the next few months as the damage is assessed. These places have long stood in the background and now, in some cases, will be in the forefront as the remaining cornerstones to rebuild these devasted communities.

Thank you to the firefighters and community members that saw value in these important places and for the heroic measures taken to save them.

If you are doing historic preservation work and looking to craft value of heritage messages to your community, check out the Value of Heritage Toolkit.

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