Covered Bridges Served Many Needs
The covered bridge is a symbol of the past. It represents a way in which the pioneers reached out to help tame the country, by providing a safe way to cross the water in all seasons. The few that are left in the Northwest are now bypassed by other roads and can only be discovered on a drive in the country.
The covered bridges served purposes other than transportation, too. For instance, they were community bulletin boards. The sides and entrances were frequently painted with advertisements. The promoter of an up-coming revival meeting or the travelling circus would attach his poster to the walls. There was plenty of time to read these messages as the horse and buggy passed by.
Sometimes the bridges served as social gathering places. In the summer, they were cool, and a great place to hold a political rally. Poker parties and dances were also held, and at least one Grange used a covered bridge as a meeting hall. In the 1860s, a covered bridge in Salem, Oregon, was the site for a wedding.
The bridges frequently served as overnight hotels for travelers who couldn’t make it any farther. In Lane County, Oregon, the Woolsey family - all 11 of them - inhabited the bridge for an entire winter in the 1920s. They claimed the road to their home was impassable. Anyone else needing to cross the bridge had to wait while the Woolseys got their things out of the way.
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