Skip to main content

Gallon House Bridge


What do teetotalers and libations have to do with the name of a covered bridge? Let's find that out at the Gallon House Bridge. Oregon's oldest covered bridge still in continuous use, the 84 foot long Gallon House Bridge has had quite a colorful history since it first opened in 1916 at a cost of $1,310. The Gallon House Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge open to vehicular use in Marion County, Oregon. Crossing the Abiqua Creek about halfway between Mount Angel and Silverton in the Willamette Valley, the Gallon House Bridge was named because there was a small house that was built that sold bootleg alcohol on the Mt. Angel side of the bridge.

You see, at the time, Silverton was a dry town comprised mainly of Protestants and Mount Angel was a wet town populated with Roman Catholics who hailed from Germany and Switzerland (and even today, Mt. Angel shows off its German character). In 1904, Oregon voters approved the Local Option Act that allowed each city to ban the sale of alcohol. Silverton citizens had voted to be dry while Mt. Angel voters chose to allow the sale of alcohol. According to local lore, an enterprising saloon owner built a small house on the north end of the bridge and stocked it with liquor. Residents of Silverton who wanted to partake in alcohol walked the two miles each way or so to the bridge, crossed over to the Mt. Angel side and purchased a bottle, jug or jar and returned home. People got around the law by selling the gallon jugs, but giving away the spirits, hiding the money transfer that made it a sale rather than a gift. Although this was in violation of the spirit of the state law, it was perfectly legal as long as nobody wrote out a receipt, or even if the receipt was for the bottle rather than its contents. As a result, Mt. Angel bottle and jug merchants did a brisk trade taking care of thirsty visitors from Silverton who met each other at the covered bridge, hence the name Gallon House.

After the age of Temperance and Prohibition, the Gallon House Bridge faced the typical whims that a covered bridge faces. During the famed Christmas Flood of 1964, the bridge was swept off its footings and suffered considerable damage. As  it was the county's only covered bridge, the Marion County Board of Commissioners decided it should be repaired and maintained as a historical landmark. In 1985, the bridge was closed to all traffic when a damaged chord rendered the bridge useless. County road crews repaired the bridge to accept traffic up to a 10-ton limit by reinforcing a lower chord, as well as making repairs to the beams and flooring. In 1990, because of poor structural condition, the bridge was rehabilitated further. In 2016, the bridge celebrated its 100th anniversary, and today, you can bike, walk or drive across the bridge.

The tradition of having a small area for the exchange of goods continues near the Gallon House Bridge, but instead of distilled spirits, you can acquire produce.

A small historical plaque near the bridge explaining the highlights of the bridge's history.

A cyclist is making his way across the Gallon House Bridge during a Sunday ride.

Small plaque indicating the Gallon House Bridge's place in Oregon history.



Sources and Links:
Marion County Oregon - Gallon House Bridge
Association of Oregon Counties - Marion County Rededicates the Gallon House Covered Bridge
Offbeat Oregon - Gallon House covered bridge: Ground Zero in battle over booze
Silverton Country Historical Society - Gallon House Bridge Turns 100

How to Get There:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 225; the Zombie Highway of Santa Barbara and presently shortest in California

This past month I visited the Santa Barbara Area and drove the many short State Highways located there.  The shortest and the strangest is the 0.081 mile California State Route 225.


As noted above CA 225 is presently only 0.081 miles in length and is located completely on Castillo Street in Santa Barbara between Montecito Street and US 101/CA 1.  Fortunately the Caltrans Post Mile Tool illustrates that CA 225 still exists despite almost being relinquished to death.



At present moment CA 225 is the shortest State Highway in California.  By the definition of actual field mileage the following State Highways are the five shortest in California:

1.  CA 225 at 0.081 miles
2.  CA 275 at 0.14 miles
3.  CA 283 at 0.36 miles
4.  CA 77 at 0.40 miles 
5.  CA 153/CA 265 at 0.50 miles each

The origin of CA 225 was back in 1933 when Legislative Route 150 was added to the State Highway system as a loop of US 101/LRN 2 between Santa Barbara east to near Montecito according to CAhighways.org.  As orig…

California State Route 198

Over the past four years one of the most common State Highways I've driven in California has been California State Route 198.  Fortunately CA 198 has one of the best driving segments in the entire California State Highway System and some deep history dating back to the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act.


CA 198 in present configuration is a 141 mile east/west State Highway from US Route 101 in San Lucas of Monterey County east to the Generals Highway or Sequoia National Park in Tulare County.


CA 198 was one of the original Signed State Highways which was announced in a 1934 Department of Public Works Guide on Page 32.  CA 198 was aligned entirely over Legislative Route 10.  Originally CA 198 was the highest number assigned to any Signed State Highway.


CA 198 has come up several times on Gribblenation mostly in regards to former alignments.  While the history of the entire route of CA 198 will be discussed here much of the photographic details on particular areas can be found o…

California State Route 60/Former US Route 60/70 through the Moreno Valley Badlands west to Riverside

This past month I drove California State Route 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands westward towards the City of Riverside.  CA 60 through the Moreno Valley Badlands was once part of the corridors of US Route 60 and US Route 70.


The present route of CA 60 is a 70 mile (76 counting multiplex) slice of former US 60 between downtown Los Angeles east to I-10 near Beaumont.  The vast majority of CA 60 aside from a small section in the Moreno Valley Badlands is presently a freeway grade.



For me CA 60 holds some personal history as it was the route I used most frequently accessing work sites in the Inland Empire circa 2011-2013.  Despite what many others probably would say I always really enjoyed the Moreno Valley Badlands portion of CA 60.  Considering I frequently worked on US 60 through Arizona and New Mexico the route holds even more appeal.  I even have a CA 60 shield hanging up in my garage.




Part 1; History of Roadways in the Moreno Valley Badlands

CA 60 between Beaumont and Riverside…