Ritner Creek Bridge – Polk County

Bridge Over Troubled Waters Tuesdays Week one.  I decided that one of the best things about the Willamette Valley and one of the things I’m interested in are the covered bridged we have here.  As I was researching this story I noticed there are over fifty covered bridges here.  I decided it could become a series – a long running series.  One of the difficult things would be that I’m located in the northern part of the Willamette Valley and the majority of the covered bridges are located around Eugene, Cottage Grove and that area – the southern Willamette Valley.  The first one I stopped at and the closest to me is one I accidentally stumbled onto a year or so ago with a buddy of mine when we were driving around.  We weren’t looking for it, but since it’s so close to the road it’s pretty hard to miss.  It’s basically right next to the bridge that replaced it (which isn’t covered, of course).

I got off work early to find a couple of the bridges and made my way south from Hillsboro.  The drive was gorgeous – in the spring in the Willamette Valley is’s likely you’ll encounter rain, sun, wind, beautiful cloud formations, and everything in between.  Most of the roads between were also super lightly travelled so there wasn’t much traffic which made for a very relaxing drive.  At first google gave me the wrong address – and led me down a dirt road, just fyi, if your directions lead you down a dirt road they aren’t right, this covered bridge is all on tarmac.  I turned away from the dirt road and somehow found the bridge.  It was rather odd – I  didn’t have any kind of cell service but managed to find the bridge anyway.  Guess it must have been providence.  I found the bridge finally and it’s a gorgeous one – huge and white and just how I imagine a white covered bridge should look.  I drove past the bridge and pulled into the parking area.  The first thing you’ll see is the gorgeous entrance tot he Ritner Creek Bridge, which looks exactly like it must have looked what it looked like when it was built in nineteen twenty-nine.

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As I walked up to the bridge I noticed there were some railroad ties leading down to a really nice park area that had some well moved grass and led to the river.  Today, while I was visiting the sun was out and the park looked beautiful and I was super happy to be visiting this fantastic spot.  I moved closer to the bridge and noticed there are bricks in front of the bridge – they must be donators who supported the bridge move efforts or maybe supporters or the park – there’s not an explanation of that, but I thought it was a nice honorarium for them.  It seemed like there was still some spaces for supporters, so folks could still contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the bridge.

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As soon as I got inside the bridge I noticed a large sign on the right that gave some explanations for why the bridge is where is located currently.   There is also some history regarding the original construction, costs, and the park that is around the bridge now.

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I walked a little further and noticed the windows that are on the side of the bridge.  Large and ornately shaped they let in quite a bit of light and add a lightness to the bridge that would ordinarily be missing – it would seem much more like a cave without the nice windows.  I also noticed there are picnic tables inside the bridge – apparently folks are supposed to take meals here or just spend some time relaxing here.  I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea to me.  If you lean out a little at certain sport you can see the water flowing underneath the bridge.  It’s super clean and clear so you can also see the bottom with no problem.

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I made my way to the far end and noticed another beautiful park area.  The grass was very nicely mowed and went down to the river.  It was such a beautiful scene I got a video of the water flowing and the sun shining.  I spent several minutes just admiring the scene then headed back through the bridge then notice the intricate structure of the ceiling – obviously quite a bit of effort was spent designing this structure and its remarkable it has survived and is in as good a shape as it is after all these years – I suppose there has been periodic maintenance, but for a bridge that is almost ninety years old it’s still impressive.

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Overall the Ritner Creek Bridge deserves five Heywillamettes because it’s a wonderfully peaceful place.  It’s got a nice parking area, nice picnic tables where folks can have a meal or just relax, and a very large park area where folks can enjoy their time visiting the bridge.  It’s a fantastic first bridge visit (for me) and a great start for our series I’m going to call Bridge Over Troubled Waters Tuesdays – and like the title a new article should get posted every Tuesday.

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