I’m a sucker for a side-trip. That is precisely why I enjoy traveling the smallest, least travelled roads possible. I have a habit of slamming on the brakes and pulling a fast u-turn to check out something that whizzed by the window but lodged in my mind as a curiosity—behavior that is quite impossible and unforgivable on an interstate highway. Thus it was the morning I left Lincoln City, Oregon, headed hopefully toward Niagara Falls. (No, this was not a west coast-east coast trip. There is actually a Niagara Falls in Oregon.) I had only driven a short distance on Highway 18 when a sign caught my eye: Drift Creek Covered Bridge Ahead. Hmmm. I slowed down, fully appreciating the lack of traffic and frequent pull-outs where I could let locals scoot around me.
Then another sign appeared. The sign did not indicate where this road went or what it was called. Covered bridge? I’ll find out. I drove a little ways up the paved road, which meandered endearingly through thick pine forest sheltering small Oregon farms. Then another small home-made sign: Covered Bridge;1 Mile. Satisfied, I continued. And boom, I came around a curve in the road and there it was!
The road through the bridge, however, led to a private residence and did not appear to continue beyond.
The bridge was indeed beautiful and worthy of a side-trip. There was even a little sign-in booklet and what almost looked like a shrine with candles and dried flowers set up on a bench at one end of the bridge. There was also a plexiglass box containing 8.5×11″ sheets typed with The Story of the Drift Creek Covered Bridge, by Laura Mitchel Sweitz covering both sides of the page.
How important was history to our family? We didn’t know exactly how important until a situation arose in our small town. In 1997 the Lincoln County Commissioners voted to demolish the oldest Covered Bridge in Oregon. We live 8 miles from the old historic structure! What happened to us next was incomprehensible.
Well, it was pretty incomprehensible. The story continues to describe a cascading set of misfortunes and miracles that spanned years, fund-raisers, depression, divorce, tears, hard work, and eventually a beautifully restored bridge (to nowhere, I assume.). Note: The bridge was “the Lord’s project. Now all can see what the Lord has built!”
“Originally erected over Drift Creek in 1914. Demolished in 1997 and reconstructed on this sit in 2001. Dedicated to the pioneers of Lincoln County by Laura and Kerry Sweitz who rescued the parts and pieces when the original bridge was demolished and with the aid of many volunteers and superintendents rebuilt the bridge on this part of their property which is available to the public for their enjoyment. This cornerstone dedicated by Taft Masonic Lodge #200 A.F. & A.M. of Lincoln City, Oregon. July 14, 2001.”
It’s a cool bridge and I’m glad Ms. Laura endured all the hardships it took to get the bridge restored. Perhaps the Lord had a mighty hand in keeping Ms. Laura going. But in my humble opinion, this bridge stands as testimony to what determination and grit can accomplish. Kudos to Ms. Laura.