Unity Covered Bridge

Unity Covered Bridge

Unity Covered Bridge - PNWPhotoblog

Unity Covered Bridge from the 1950s

Here is an awesome vintage photo from the 1950’s of the Unity Covered Bridge between Fall Creek and Lowell.

In 1890, the first bridge across Fall Creek was constructed by Nels Roney. That 129-foot Howe structure cost Lane County $2,925.The original bridge was finally removed in 1953, having served as a foot bridge since 1936. A new covered span was built three-fourths of a mile upstream in 1936 at the community of Unity.The county used a standardized 90-foot Howe truss design but added a full length window in the east side to give motorists a glimpse of oncoming traffic, adding an aesthetic effect to the structure. The county spent only $4,400 in constructing the span.In July 1986, Lane County temporarily closed the bridge for repairs. In addition to replacing the flooring, other work included repair of the piers and guardrails, exterior painting, and removing evidence of vandalism.The bridge crosses Fall Creek just a few miles from the Pengra, Lowell and Parvin covered bridges.Bicycle tours often include this span in their rural routes.

HOW TO GET THERE

: From Interstate 5 exit Highway 58 and travel east to the town of Lowell. Turn left at the Lowell Covered Bridge and continue north through Lowell on County Road 6220 (Lowell-Unity Road) for two miles to Unity.

USS Benton County (LST-263) (1943-1958)

USS Benton County (LST-263) was one of several Landing ships built during WWII, named after locations in the Pacific Northwest. Like the rest of the LST, it wasn’t directly named for just one county though. There are Benton Counties in Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington, so for our purposes it could be on this list twice!

USS LST-263 under way, October 19 1943, location unknown - Photo by David Kerr, US National Archives photo # 80-G-411655

USS LST-263 under way, October 19 1943, location unknown – Photo by David Kerr, US National Archives photo # 80-G-411655

According to official records LST-263 was only in one action, but did a bit of work transporting troops to the battle fronts in Italy and France. Over 1000 LSTs were built for use in WWII. They were designed to drop off tanks, trucks, artillery and troops onto beaches in amphibious operations. This they did around the world through several wars.

LST-263 was one of 120 LSTs built by the American Bridge Company in Ambridge, PA. She was laid down September 7th, 1942 and launched four months later on February 27th 1943. She was “sponsored” by Mrs. Charles G. Baumgartner, whom seems to have disappeared from history. LST-263 was then commissioned on June 20th 1943, and assigned to the European Theater.

As part of Convoy UGS-37 she crossed the Atlantic Ocean in Spring 1944. It is unclear what she might have carried during that time, but I imagine whatever it was, she was full! As a LST, she is not listed on any Convoy listing that I can found. UGS-37 sailed from the Hamptons on March 24, 1944 to Port Said, Egypt, arriving on April 19, 1944. I assume that was the assembly point for the invasion of France in August and September 1944.

It appears that LST-263 started transporting troops and supplies to the Italian Battlefront. Her first major stop looks to have been Naples. She was the first LST to land at the port of Civitavecchia, Italy, 40 miles Northwest of Rome in June 1944. Despite the Royal Navy clearing a path through ship wrecks in the harbor, they still had to guide the LSTs in. Her next stop was Palermo, Sicily in August 1944.

USS LST-263 beached at Civitavecchia, Italy

USS LST-263 beached at Civitavecchia, Italy – Courtesy of Imperial War Museum Admiralty Official Collection, by Roper, F.G. (Lt), Photo No. © IWM (A 24320)

From the Unit History of the 214th AAA Bn, Sept. 1944.
2 September 1944, Batteries alerted for loading on to LSTs at Ajaccio, Corsica, A & B Batteries on LST-263. Left docks about 1530 and sailed from the harbor at 1800. CO and. S-3, 406th AAA Gun Bn saw us off. Fresh meat for supper.
3 September 1944, Sea journey to St. Tropez, France. windy and rough. Anchored in harbor about 2030.
4 September 1944, Debarking took place at Delta beach, approximately 3 miles west of St. Tropez, from 0800 to 1245

After a rather boring (at least on paper) trip to France, it looks like she transported wounded soldiers and continued to drop off supplies to both the French and Italian fronts. With the end of the war, she was laid up as part of the Reserve Fleet on May 29th 1946. In 1955, for reasons I’ve yet to find, all the LSTs were given proper names. From July 1st 1955, until she was struck from the Naval register and disposed on November 1st, 1958, she was known as the USS Benton County.

Her post war fate is unknown – but is apparently covered in World War II U.S. Navy Vessels in Private Hands: The Boats and Ships Sold and Registered for Commercial and Recreational Purposes Under the American Flag on pg 77. I have not been able to secure a copy of this book though, so have not been able to find out what her ultimate fate was. If you know, (or have a copy of this book,) please comment below!

USS LST-263 ship and staff officers, Palermo Sicily, August 1944. From Douglas K. Fidler, Captain, USAF-Retired

USS LST-263 ship and staff officers, Palermo Sicily, August 1944. From Douglas K. Fidler, Captain, USAF-Retired

Picture above:
Front Sitting (l – r) Ensign Bradford, LT(jg) Reynolds, LT Barnett, LT CDR Russel, LT J. Alfred Austin (CO), Ensign Griffin, LT T.C. McMillen, LT(jg) Benjamin J. Petrusek (CAPT, USN-Ret)
Back Row Standing (l-r) LT(jg) Sparks, LT(jg) New, LT E. Hower, LT(jg) Rothblith, LT(jg) Almand, Ensign Harold J. Fidler (LCDR, USN-Ret)

Other known crew members:
Bennett, Zack

Click here to see more Navy ships named for Pacific Northwest Locations.

CSS Oregon – 1846-1861

CSS Oregon 1846-1861
The CSS Oregon was a wooden side paddle wheel steamer built in New York City in 1846 for the Mobile Mail Line. She had a twin named California, and is similar in design to the Selma. She ran mail from New Orleans, Louisiana to Mobile Alabama when the Civil War started. It is reported that under Captain Abraham Perkins Boardman she made 92 entrances and clearances of ports in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was (even at the time, illegally) seized by Governor Moore of Louisiana in 1861, but it is unknown how long she was a blockade runner before and after being seized by the Confederate State.

Lake Ponchartrain Naval Flotilla by Pithead Miniatures

The Oregon was involved in the surrender of Pensacola Navy Yard on January 12th, 1861. She moved 350 troops to Mississippi to Florida, and the next day moved another 300 troops from Alabama. While described as “well armed state forces,” the troops were a combination of infantry, cavalry and an unit of artillery – with no cannon. Florida had succeeded two days before, and the US Navy was not able to protect the yards.

Command of the Oregon was given to Captain A. L. Myers, and the Oregon was converted into a gunboat. She was given an 8 inch gun, a 32 inch gun, and two howitzers. Along with the CSS Arrow, she sailed to Ship Island Light and attempted to lure the USS Massachusetts to her destruction via shore batteries. Her next recorded action was in the evacuation of the same island on Confederate forces in September 1861.

Along with the CSS Carondelet and the CSS Pamlico, she attempted to prevent the landing of Union troops at Pass Christian, Mississippi on April 4th, 1862. The flotilla was unsuccessful and managed to escape up the river due to their lower draft.

During the evacuation of New Orleans in April 1862, she was one of three ships (along with the CSS Bienville) sunk in the Tchefuncte River to block US Navy boats from capturing Camp Moore from the north and to keep the ship from falling into enemy hands. As a navigation hazard, this was a success. As a tactic, the US Army simple landed up river and marched upon the Camp and then the city. They were known navigational hazards until 1872 when they were raised from the river.

Back to Navy ships named for PNW Locations

USS Chinook (SP-644) – 1917-1918

USS Chinook I (SP-644) 1917-1918

I have not been able to find any pictures of this boat. If you happen to have one, please let me know below.

The USS Chinook was only in service to the US Navy for four months. The Chinook was a motorboat acquired from a private owner in 1917 and commissioned into Naval Coast Defense Reserve on October 19th, 1917 where it patrolled the Detroit River on the border of Canada between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. It was decommissioned and returned to her owners in February 1918. No pictures exist of her – if you got any, please comment below.

*note* – there is an advertisement in the January 10th, 1921 “Motor Boat, Volume 18” for a wooden boat named “Chinook.” These advertisements continued until at least August 1921. In those days this name was strange enough in the mid-west region that it could be the same boat.

40′ 5″ x 6″ 9′ Mahogany Runabout “Chinook,” speed 25 M.P.H. Equipped with a six-cylinder, 5 1/2 x 6 Van Blerk engine, electric starter, generator, electric lights, windshield, upholstered seats, top and curtains. Boat is in excellent condition and immediate shipment can be made to any point desired. Value $7,500.00: will sell for $5,000.00. Address Winston Engine Works, Cleveland, Ohio.”

Back to Navy ships named for PNW Locations

USS Klamath – 1865-1874

USS Klamath 1865-1874
The USS Klamath was One of twenty Casco Class Monitors (iron-clad). It was a single turreted monitor launched on April 20th, 1865 in Cincinnati, OH. The ship was meant to be a used in the shallow bays and rivers that the states of the Confederacy were known for by sacrificing armor to reduce weight and draft. The Casco class was designed by influential designer and engineer,

John Ericsson who designed the first US Navy Ironclad, the USS Monitor. But the design was modified by Chief Alban C. Stimers after the failure of the Second Battle of Fort Sumpter.

USS Casco

USS Casco – lead of the Casco Class Monitors. This was built as a torpedo boat instead of a monitor so it looks like the single turret is replaced with a lookout tower.

The two men’s relationship has been alternatively mentioned as poor or strained. The third person to look at the design, Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, John Lenthall, had little contact with the US Navy ship construction board so the design was passed with little critical scrutiny and construction started. Design flaws discovered during construction of the first ship resulted in a redesign that extended the draft by 22 inches to make the ship seaworthy and able to carry the armor originally designed for the ship.

The US Navy received possession of the USS Klamath, along with the USS Yuma on May 6th, 1866, three days before the end of the Civil War. The design flaw, and the end of the war, meant that ships of this class couldn’t be used in their intended role though, and the USS Klamath was laid up in Mound City Illinois. It was renamed to the USS Harpy on June 15th, 1869 for unknown reasons, but changed back to USS Klamath less than a month later on August 10th, 1869.

The ship was moved to New Orleans in 1870 and along with a number of other surplus monitors such as the USS Kickapoo, sold at public auction on September 12, 1874 to Schickels, Harrison & Co. Where it is presumed they were scrapped.