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

Former California State Route 1 over Old Pedro Mountain Road

California State Route 1 in western San Mateo County traverses the Montara Mountain spur of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  In modern times California State Route 1 passes through Montara Mountain via the Tom Lantos Tunnels and the highway is traditionally associated with Devils Slide.  Although Devils Slide carries an infamous legacy due it being prone landslides it pales in comparison to the alignment California State Route 1 carried prior to November 1937 over Old Pedro Mountain Road.   Old Pedro Mountain Road opened to traffic in 1915 and is considered one of the first major asphalted highways in California.  Old Pedro Mountain Road clambers over a grade from Montara towards Pacifica via the 922 foot high Saddle Pass.  Pictured above an overlook of Old Pedro Mountain Road facing southward towards Montara as it appears today.  Pictured below it the same view during June 1937 when it was part of the original alignment of California State Route 1.  Today Old Pedro Mountain sits abandoned a

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

Former US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo

Originally US Route 101 upon descending Cuesta Pass southbound entered the City of San Luis Obispo via Monterey Street.  From Monterey Street US Route 101 utilized Santa Rosa Street and Higuera Street southbound through downtown San Luis Obispo.  Upon departing downtown San Luis Obispo US Route 101 would have stayed on Higuera Street southward towards Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande.  Notably; beginning in 1934 US Route 101 picked up California State Route 1 at the intersection of Monterey Street/Santa Rosa Street where the two would multiplex to Pismo Beach.  Pictured below is the 1 935 Division of Highways Map of San Luis Obispo County depicting the original alignments of US Route 101 and California State Route 1 in the City of San Luis Obispo.   Part 1; the history of US Route 1 and California State Route 1 in San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo lies at the bottom of the Cuesta Pass (also known as the Cuesta Grade) which has made it favored corridor of travel for centuries.  Cuesta Pass