Click on photos to enlarge! Photos courtesy Wayne Belmont, County Counsel
The re-dedication of the restored Chitwood Covered Bridge between Newport and Eddyville on Highway 20 was celebrated Monday afternoon.
The renovation of the Chitwood Bridge included replacing the top and bottom cord members, diagonals, corbels, and timber decking. The renovation included replace roofing, bridge rail, siding, painting the structure, and stain and fumigation the bridge house.
The project was conducted as a part of the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program (federal funds). The total project cost was $1,254,209 with Lincoln County providing $176,210 of the total project cost.
Here’s a little history on the old bridge:
In December of 1893, the first bridge in Chitwood was constructed in the very spot the covered bridge stands today. It allowed residents of Chitwood to cross the Yaquina without fording the river.
In 1904 another bridge replaced the prior, however it was also uncovered. These bridges did not stand up well to the harsh conditions of weather in the coast range.
In the year 1926, the first covered bridge was constructed which stood in place until it’s reconstruction in 1984. This bridge was named after the small community of Chitwood, as in Joshua Chitwood, namesake of the railway town. Today, Chitwood is a ghost town, far from resembling the bustling railroad village it once was.
About Chitwood Covered Bridge
The existing Chitwood bridge was built in 1926 and is 96 feet long. The bridge was built by Otis Hamer, and the design is attributed to A.E. Marvin. In 1984, the bridge was rehabilitated by federal and county funding and reconstructed by Aubrey Mountain Construction. Construction on this bridge began in late September and was finished by January 7th, 1984.
The reconstruction was historically accurate as the construction company rebuilt the Howe Truss design, and the board and batten siding. The simple structure of flared sides and semi-elliptical portal arches, as well as the barn red color, are characteristics of Lincoln County’s bridges. The Chitwood Bridge crosses over the Lower Yaquina River, and is still passable by motorized traffic. The weight limit for this bridge is eight tons.
Covered wooden bridges once dotted the landscape of the United States, numbering 14,000 at one time, as reported in the Federal Highway Administration’s Covered Bridge Manual. Today only 800 covered bridges remain in the country, having survived hundreds of years largely as a result of the roof structure that kept the bridge timbers dry.