Gilkey Bridge – Linn County

Bridge Over Troubled Waters Tuesday – Week Seventeen!  Wow, I can hardly believe how many bridges I’ve seen over this journey, and there are lots more!!!  I particularly enjoyed visiting Gilkey Bridge and not for the normal reasons I’ve enjoyed any of the other ones.  Gilkey was one of the last ones I visited on a recent drive near several of them just east of Interstate five near Scio and Silverton.  Gilkey Bridge has one startling difference from all of the rest of the bridges I’ve seen and I dare say none of the others will be the same.  However, we’ll have to see.

Finding Gilkey Bridge

Gilkey bridge was the last one on my little trip to six or seven of these bridges.  It was the last one I visited and I was grateful to have the opportunity to visit it and be able to spend some time there and not worry too much about timing.

Arriving at Gilkey Bridge

The first thing I noticed (it’s a little hard not to!) was that there were signs saying “Bridge Closed Ahead” and “DO NOT ENTER” – well, you all know me – I ignored those signs and figured I would find out sooner to later what that meant.  I did see lots of equipment ahead and as I got closer there were barrels blocking (mostly) any traffic getting close.  I was super surprised and my breath almost taken away when I drove as far as I could and started seeing parts of Gilkey Bridge (because, what else would it be) lying along the road.

Piles of supports
These supports look like some of the main supports for Gilkey Bridge – It’s fantastic that they have been so carefully removed – obviously the timbers are going to be use used again

As I walked closer there were more and more pieces of the bridge lying along the road – now, here’s the thing, they were very carefully removed from the bridge and weren’t simply discarded, they were all carefully stacked and organized.  There was a few obstacles blocking the road, so I parked the bronco and made my way the remainder of the distance on foot.

Building materials stacked neatly
I parked as close as I could get then walked the rest the way.  Building materials are stacked carefully along the road
Railings stacked
These parts look like the side railings for Gilkey Bridge.  All of the parts in addition to being carefully removed were labeled to indicate where they would be re-installed

Gilkey Bridge Itself

Finally I got close enough to actually see the bridge itself – and for all the parts and pieces of it lying along the road it still seemed massive and super durable.  It was located about a hundred yards from the creek itself – just moved along the road from where it was previously located across the creek.

Bridge itself
This picture shows how much of the bridge has been removed and how sturdy the structure still is.  Gilkey Bridge is still massive and it can easily be seen how it has survived all these decades
Bridge with supports
Walking along the bridge from this angle it is just massive and dwarfed me.  I can’t imagine how much engineering it took to get the bridge this far away from the creek itself
New parts on cross members
There are also examples of new supports and parts being used – no doubt to reinforce the massive supports
Massive crane past bridge
Past the bridge is a giant crane that has several oxygen/acetylene tanks lifted maybe thirty of forty feel in the air – no doubt to deter potential thieves
Looking back at bridge
Looking back at the disassembled bridge its strength is still visible and I have no doubt it will soon be ferrying cars across the river again soon

Walking Toward the River

I kept going past the bridge itself – I wanted to see what the creek looked like and while I was heading there I noticed maybe the biggest timbers I’ve ever seen out of a house – I think they might have been twelve by twelves.  These were also stacked carefully along the road

Additional stacks of building materials
These are the some of the biggest pieces of wood I’ve ever seen
More stacks of recovered building materials
The care taken with stacking these building materials removed from the existing bridge makes me very happy – seems like as much as possible will be re-used

Arriving at the River

When I got to the end of the road it really was the end of the road.  Like no more bridge and no way to get across.  The supports on either side of the bridge were being remade in concrete and looked as sturdy as the bridge itself.  There is a smaller bridge that is for trains that still crosses the river, but the absence of Gilkey Bridge itself is startling.  Still, it’s very good to see how well the county or state is taking care of things and preserving this piece of Oregon history.

Gilkey Bridge's new supports
The concrete supports are being rebuilt – the forms are massive
Closer view of new concrete supports
The concrete forms have to be at least two feet across it will make for an extremely strong support structure

Summary and Rating

Gilkey  Bridge was a great place to finish the tour I had for that special morning – it showed how well these bridges are built and also how carefully they are treated when they are being worked on.  I highly recommend anyone who has an opportunity to visit as many of these bridges as they can.  Also, if you have time in the near future find a moment to visit Gilkey Bridge – it’s fantastic and definitely deserves five Heywillamettes.

Heywillamettevalley five out of five rating



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