Shimanek Bridge – Marion County

Bridge Over Troubled Waters Tuesday – Week Twelve!  Shimanek bridge was the second one I visited while driving through a small area near Silverton just a little east of Interstate five.  It’s a relatively short drive to visit all seven of the ones Im going to write about for weeks eleven through seventeen – so if you get a chance to visit one, make sure you visit them all!  Plus there are some fantastic restaurants I’ll be visiting near Salem – and will be sure to mention when I review them.

Where is Shimanek Bridge?

After visiting Gallon House Bridge the route I picked led me to the Shimanek Bridge next.  This one is a little different from any of the others I’d visited – it was painted red!!  It was also still being used and vehicles drive way too fast through it, so make absolutely sure – if you get a chance to visit that you do so safely.  I was plenty scared trying to get pictures and dodging cars at the same time.

Inside the Bridge

Shimanek Bridge
Shimanek Bridge from North Side

There is some space once you get inside, but not nearly enough and I was worried that a car or truck would drive by and not be paying attention while I was occupied with picture taking.  I parked a little ways away and made my way to the bridge – it’s got a regular opening – no graceful curves to the opening on this one, and was red with white trim.  Just inside the air got noticeably cooler – comfortable in fact after the heat of the day – it seems like it’s hot all the time lately doesn’t it?  Inside there was a small area to walk away from the vehicle lane, but I was still pretty nervous.

Just inside Shimanek Bridge
Just inside Shimanek Bridge – the windows and zig-zag ceiling can be seen.

Shimanek Bridge has Noticeable Differences! 

This bridge had a few features I noticed were different from many of the others – first of all was the color, I mentioned that already, but the other thing I noticed was the ceiling timbers were done in a zig-zag pattern rather than the usual X – pattern.  The other thing I noticed was on the sides – they were double-reinforced – if you look close every other section is actually a double width of timber.  No wonder this bridge has been in service for such a long time – it is extremely ruggedly constructed!

The zig-zag ceiling can easily be seen looking through Shimanek toward the south.
Sturdy Supports in Shimanek Bridge
This picture really illustrates the sturdiness of Shimanek Bridge.

Another cool feature of this bridge and another thing that no doubt contributed to it’s longevity is the window design, which is narrow slats angled downward – much like the Dorena Covered Bridge.  Though the windows are fairly tall and offer somewhat good light they wouldn’t allow any rain inside the bridge except in the most extreme conditions.  The windows are evenly spaced and on extremely bright days the interior can appear quite dark (another reason I was nervous).

Shimanek Bridge - looking at the windows.
The windows at Shimanek Bridge – while large have wooden slants in them protecting the interior from rain and weather.

Thomas Creek

The waterway the bridge traverses – Thomas Creek is very slow moving and the water was mirror-like when I was visiting.  I was able to get a beautiful picture looking out the window at the creek.

Looking out at Thomas Creek through slatted window
The slats in the windows are angled downward to keep rain out.

The slow moving water shining through the cracks in the driveway also contributed to the light-show that was on the ceiling – this is actually one of my favorite parts of visiting these bridges – the reflection from the sun on the water inside the intricate structure of these bridges is breathtaking.

Ceiling view
I always love how reflections from the water dance on the ceiling – Thomas Creek is fairly calm, so there wasn’t much movement.

After walking through the bridge (and dodging a few cars) I was able to stand outside and get a nice view of the creek and the side of the bridge.  The bridge could use a nice coat of paint – it looks a little worn close-up, but being so heavily built I’d bet it’s going to last almost forever.

Thomas Creek and flaking red paint.
Thomas Creek is very clear and slow moving, some of the weathered paint can also be seen.

Driving Through Shimanek Bridge

I decided that since I was able to drive through to turn on my camera as I was driving to my next location and let you all know how it feels to drive through one of these vintage bridges.  It’s a fantastic experience and I made sure to not drive as fast as the cars I had to avoid did.

Summary and Rating

This was another fantastic bridge to visit and very convenient near several others.  It can easily be visited during a trip to the Oregon Garden and the Gordon House.   Please be very observant – the traffic flows very quickly through the bridge and it can become scary inside the bridge as vehicles drive through.  I’ll award Shimanek bridge four and a half Heywillamettes – just because vehicles drive through it quicker than the posted speed – at least in my experience.  I do hope you all get a chance to visit – it’s another of Oregon’s beautiful historic covered bridges and deserves to be appreciated.



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