Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ruckel Creek Bridge

Here are a couple of photos of the little Ruckel Creek Bridge, on a stretch of the old Columbia River Highway now reserved for bikes & hikers. I visited to track down obscure Ruckel Creek Falls, and the bridge is right there too. The bridge really isn't much, quite honestly. A 1987 Oregonian article about restoring the old highway mentions it briefly at the end, as the last and least of three then-abandoned bridges. It's described simply as "a 10-foot concrete slab span with concrete abutments faced with stone. It was built in 1917." The stone-faced railing extends beyond the bridge and is more like 45 feet long, so drivers on the old highway, or hikers who don't venture off of today's path, might assume the creek is a lot bigger than it actually is. The bridge is perched right at the top of Ruckel Creek Falls, and you can easily see the falls from above looking over the side of the bridge. There isn't an official marked trail down to the base of the waterfall, so the bridge is useful for figuring out where they're at. And once you find the falls, any photos you take of them stand a good chance of including the bridge too. And then you'll have some bridge photos, and if you aren't careful you'll be sucked into an ongoing bridge photo & blog project. It happened to me, it could happen to you too.

Anyway, it looks like this bridge was on part of the old highway bypassed in 1937, when a new route replaced the treacherous Tooth Rock Viaduct segment. Which would mean it only served as a highway bridge for about twenty years before becoming obsolete. This happened well before the general rerouting of US 30 after WWII, so I imagine the Tooth Rock stretch of the old highway must have been a real beast to drive. That section is a trail now too, having reopened to the public sometime in the late 1990s. It occurs to me I've never actually been on that stretch of the old highway; sooner or later I'll have to go remedy that.

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