Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bridging the Gap on the Oregon Coast

Yaquina Bay Bridge, Newport, Oregon
Designed and built by Conde McCullough
Completed in 1936
Photo by Melanie Sherman

Conde McCullough (1887–1946) was a professor at Oregon State in Corvallis from 1916 to 1919. In 1919, he accepted an offer to become Oregon's bridge engineer in the Bridge Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation. He immediately hired four of the five graduating class members of the civil engineering department at Oregon State (the fifth declined). From 1919 to 1925, he and his staff designed and built nearly 600 bridges in Oregon.

I like to think about the types of vehicles travelling across the bridges during those times. Already old cars like this 1909 Pope Hartford, racing across in a blur of maroon and brass.

1909 Pope Hartford
Photo by Melanie Sherman

Or newer cars like this 1913 Case, rolling across on the huge, thin white walls and sporting beautiful wood spoke wheels and upgraded leather upholstery, filled with driver, spouse and four children out for a week's vacation at the coast.

1913 Case
Photo by Melanie Sherman

Or a brand new, spiffy Dodge with the row of oval rear windows and the fancy hood ornaments, and the family bundled in under wool, Hudson's Bay blankets.

1919 Dodge
Photo by Don O'Brien

But the depression arrived in 1929 and what did the Bridge Division of the Oregon Department of Transportation do? Did they collapse and go on unemployment? Well, they certainly slowed their pace, but they continued to build bridges throughout Oregon. Imagine the cement, lumber, gravel and sand industries thriving during this time period because of these bridge constructions. Not to mention the workers that built them. Twelve bridges, designed by Mr. McCullough, were completed between 1930 and 1936, most of them along Oregon Coast Highway 101 on the Oregon Coast.

Did he ever suspect the bridges would carry a set of doubles, or an RV bigger than many homes at that time? Did they have meetings to brainstorm what the future would hold, or what the bridges would hold in 2011? And yet they do hold. He designed them to last. And he made them pretty.

Yaquina Bay Bridge
Photo by Melanie Sherman


  1. Melanie - it looks like you had fun taking these pix. Nicely done, as always.

  2. Kathy,

    It was an experiment, to see if it draws hits to the blog. I don't think it does.

  3. Well done, love the cars, the 1909 Pope Hartford is something special !

  4. Nice 1909 Pope, love the antique cars....


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