Baker’s Covered Bridge

Baker’s Covered Bridge

As construction techniques have improved, so has Baker’s Bridge, also known as the Carver Bridge. Located just south of the small town of Carver Oregon across the Clackamas River, the fourth bridge to be at this location has recently been installed.

Located next to the Barlow trail, a lot of settlers stopped here as took up donation claims. Among them, Horace Baker, a stone cutter, pump maker, and all around ingenious guy. His original cabin still exists less then a 1/4 mile from this location. Baker built a ferry across the Clackamas River at this location in 1872. It ran until his death in 1882. The same source also says the ferry was swept away by high water that year, but I have not been able to find if those two events are related.

At that time, the county decided to build a bridge across the river. It was finished in 1883, and named Baker’s Bridge in his memory. It is also referred to as “Baker’s Ferry Covered Bridge” in some sources. It was 230 feet long, built in the Smith Truss style.

Baker's Bridge

Sorry for the poor quality, I made the assumption I could find a digital copy of this photo

Baker's Ferry Covered Bridge

Old Oregon Photos says this was the Baker’s Bridge in 1900. I can’t reconcile the major differences between this bridge and the two pictures above. My only guess is that the river might have washed out part of the bank and the extension was built on the end. If this is the case, this would be looking from the north end of the bridge. Either way – I highly recommend visiting Old Oregon Photos, they have some of the best pictures of Oregon.

In 1930, Baker’s Covered Bridge was replaced by two new bridges. One was a trestle bridge built by the Clackamas & Eastern Railroad on the west side of the covered bridge. The other a 9-panel Parker through truss bridge built for automobiles. With both these bridges completed, the covered bridge was removed. The automobile bridge retained the name “Baker’s Bridge,” while the railroad bridge was removed at an unknown time.

Clackamas and Eastern Railroad Bridge at Carver, Oregon

Railroad Bridge built in 1930. Baker’s Covered Bridge is to the right.

The 1930s Baker Bridge was rehabilitated in the 1955. Unfortunately, as is typical these days, between modern building techniques, and degradation over time, this bridge was totally replaced in 2013. This was done despite it’s eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. The deck condition was so bad that rebuilding it would have been impossible.

The new bridge is a modern concrete bridge, with what looks like three lanes. When I visited in March 2016 road striping had not been finished and there were still construction traffic control devices present. The footings of the Covered Bridge on the south shore of the Clackamas River are still visible. Those on the north shore don’t seem to exist any longer.

Old Baker's Covered Bridge Footing

Old Baker’s Covered Bridge Footing


Bibliography

Ritner Creek Covered Bridge

Ritner Creek Covered Bridge

The Ritner Creek Bridge was the last covered bridge in use on Oregon’s highways. Note that it is not the last that can still be driven over – there are several in Linn County that are still drivable. Located about two miles south of Peedee on King’s Highway/Highway 223, the bridge played an important role in the community. It was used to house weddings, community events, and local residents even mounted mail boxes inside to protect them from the weather.

Ritner Covered Bridge

Back side of bridge

Back side of bridge

About the bridge

About the bridge

The sign (placed by Polk County) says “Text from the Ritner Creek Bridge Sign
Ritner Creek Bridge, one of the covered bridges remaining in Oregon west of the Cascades, almost became a memory in 1974. Declared structurally unsafe, it was scheduled for removal. The children of Pedee School along with the citizens in the Pedee area rallied to its support with a “Save our Bridge” campaign. The County commissioners met with the state highway department and as a result the issue was placed on the ballot May 28, 1974. The measure passed and the covered bridge was moved to an adjacent site. The new bridge on Highway 223 parallels it.

Ritner Creek Bridge was named for a pioneer, Sebastian Ritner who arrived in Oregon in 1845. Some of his descendants still live in this area.

The bridge was built in 1926 by Hammer and Curry Contractors at a cost of $6,963.78. Relocation of the bridge cost the taxpayers $26,031 in 1975 – 1976. And additional $533.08 has been spent on a mini-park, which is located next to the bridge. Another park, Ritner Creek County Park is located a few miles upstream.”

Closeup of the truss design

Closeup of the truss design

View of "windows" and how they are installed

View of “windows” and how they are installed

"front" of bridge

“front” of bridge

View through a window

View through a window

The park containing the bridge is the Minnie Ritner Ruiter Wayside. It remains an important community area for celebration to this day.

Photo by Ben Maxwell in 1942.

Photo by Ben Maxwell in 1942.

In May 1960, the Oregon Historical Society sponsored a covered bridge tour. I am not able to find any information about the exact route today, but one of the men on the tour was the builder, Charles Otis Hamar, (listed as Otis Hamar in several records.) Based out of Dallas, Oregon, Mr. Hamar was a prolific builder of Covered Bridges. In addition to the Ritner Bridge, he built the Chitwood, Drift Creek, Fisher School, and the North Fork Yachats River Covered Bridges. These are just the ones still standing, he built many more in addition to these five. Please comment below if you know of any other bridges he built.

Otis Hamar 1960 by Ben Maxwell

Otis Hamar 1960 by Ben Maxwell

L to R: Tom Vaughan; Robert Scott; Otis Hamar,  and J.N. Dunn

L to R: Tom Vaughan; Robert Scott; Otis Hamar, and J.N. Dunn

Bad car accident just past the bridge, photo taken 1961 by Ben Maxwell

Bad car accident just past the bridge, photo taken 1961 by Ben Maxwell

The bridge in 1973, just before it was moved

The bridge in 1973, just before it was moved

Note that the Salem Library website says the road was moved, not the bridge. But if you look at the road here, I feel that the bridge was moved and the road stayed the same. What do you think?

Hoskins Covered Bridge

The first Hoskins Covered Bridge was built in 1900 to cross the Luckiamute River in Benton County. It was located in what was then the town of Hoskins.

That bridge was replaced in 1938 at a cost of $3815. It served the town for 36 years before the Columbus Day Storm blew several fir trees on to it. The damage was massive, and the bridge had to be replaced. This time by an uncovered concrete bridge that still exists today.

The Bridge in 1946

Hoskins Covered Bridge. Photo taken on September 29, 1946 by Ben Maxwell

Frantz Grocery and second Hoskins Bridge. Also taken by Ben Maxwell

Frantz Grocery and Hoskins Covered Bridge. Also taken by Ben Maxwell

Frantz Store and Hoskins Bridge in 1960

Frantz Store and Hoskins Covered Bridge in 1960. Photo by Ben Maxwell

After the Storm

Taken October 27, 1962, by Ben Maxwell after the Columbus Day Storm

Quartzburg California

John and Robert Burns first settled on the site of Quartzburg in 1847. A mining camp known alternatively as Burns’ Creek, Burns’ Camp, Burns’ Ranch, and Burns’ Diggings grew up here. In 1849 the camp had a large number Mexican emigrants from Sonora. They were soon kicked out, possibly for racist reasons, more likely because they had rich gold mines, and blamed for the town’s general lawlessness. They moved to nearby Hornitos and formed a new town – one who’s mines were even richer. After word of that reached Quartzburg, it died quickly as all the miners moved to Hornitos California.

A post office was built here in 1851. It was named by Thomas Thorn for all the quartz outcroppings along the creek. It managed to last until 1861 before closing.

The last remains of Quartzburg were plowed over in 1979 – for a highway. All the remains now is the cemetery.

If you know anything more about Quartzburg (such as it’s exact location, and if there are any remaining buildings,) please comment below!

Top Ten Oregon Ghost Towns

Top Ten Oregon Ghost Towns

I get asked quite often “Of the three hundred Ghost Towns of Oregon, which ones should I visit?”

Golden

Golden Oregon is one of the best preserved Ghost Towns in Western Oregon. It is now part of the Oregon State Parks and is being preserved as part of the park program. It is located an easy drive off of I-5, making it one of the most accessible ghost towns for travelers driving up from California.

The last of three churches once in Golden Oregon

Buncom

Also off of I-5 near Jacksonville (a historic town, and great stop in it’s own right,) is the much smaller town of Buncom Oregon. It only consists of three buildings, but the town is well preserved by locals and hosts the annual “Buncom Day” and event that includes food booths, a parade, and a number of family friendly fun events. It is highly recommended, all proceeds go to preserve the town.

Top Ten Oregon Ghost Towns - Downtown Buncom

The old Post Office and mess hall building in Buncom

Central Oregon’s high desert area plays host to a large number of ghost towns. Unfortunately the weather may preserve old buildings too well. Many have been removed and reused over the decades so few full towns exist. But what does is still worth the visit.

Boyd

Boyd Oregon is another very easy to visit town. Located only 11 miles from The Dallas, the town has two striking features left. One is a massive grain elevator made of heavy timbers and well preserved. The other is the old mill owner’s stone house. The house is most visible in the winter, but can still be glimpsed in the spring when the historic bushes and trees around it obscure it from the road. Keep in mind that both buildings are on private property.

Boyd's old Grain Elevator

Boyd’s old Grain Elevator

Friend

South East of Boyd by about 17 miles is Friend. The buildings consist of a well preserved church (including it’s still functional outhouse,) and general store with another attached building next to it. The Church is on Public Property and can be easily visited. The General Store is technically on private property but is also viewable.

Friend Oregon General Store

Friend Oregon General Store

Shaniko

Shaniko Oregon is likely one of Oregon’s most photographed ghost town. This is because it embraced it’s ghost town status a long time ago and became a tourist roadside attraction. By no means does this mean it is kitschy and full of “Made in China” gifts though. But it does mean that many buildings in the town from the unique design of the school to an old barber shop are quite well preserved.

The Shaniko School House

The Shaniko School House

Mitchell

Mitchell Oregon is part of the forgotten Oregon. Located in almost the geographic middle of Oregon, it was once a fairly decent tourist town itself. Even that has fallen off though, but it is still worth a visit if you’re driving along Highway 26 in central Oregon. Make sure to stop by the Painted Hills while traveling through.

Hardman

Of every town on this list, Hardman Oregon is the hardest to get too. The roads aren’t bad, it is just far from most other destinations. But, it is well worth the side trip if you are traveling along Highway 26. The town has a permanent population of about 25 people, and a summer population of 50. Many preserved buildings and homes are here, and almost all are great picture opportunities. The Hardman Community Center doubles as the town’s historic center and meeting hall.

Hardman Community Center

Hardman Community Center taken by Gary

Galena

Galena Oregon is probably my personal favorite ghost town. It is located along the “Up Middle Creek Fork Road,” which is a beautiful drive. The road follow the river below and is on the “Old West Scenic Bikeway.” The town itself is a collection of old homes with few services. Along the river though are a number of abandoned and decaying farms, along with lots of wildlife. This should definitely be on your to visit list. Also nearby is another ghost town, Susanville Oregon. Alas, this one is closed to the public as it is on private property.

Abandoned farm outside of Galena Oregon

Abandoned farm outside of Galena Oregon

Sumpter

Sumpter Oregon is the most famous of a ten ghost towns that were once connected together by the Sumpter Valley Railroad along the Powder River. Today the town hosts the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area (maintained by Oregon State parks,) the Sumpter Valley Railroad, a small, but nice logging museum, and lots of camping. Many people stay the summer here panning for gold. If you go, be sure to visit the other nearby towns like Granite, Bourne, and Whitney below.

Gold Dredge #1 in Sumpter Oregon

Gold Dredge #1 in Sumpter Oregon

Whitney

Despite it’s location near the rich gold fields along the Powder River in Eastern Oregon, Whitney Oregon was a saw mill town. At it’s height, three saw mills worked 24/7. Logs were shipped in via the Sumpter Valley Railroad, turned into lumber and shipped out again to all the gold mining towns. At it’s height, 150 people lived here. All that remains are a half dozen homes, about half of which are still occupied by a few die-hard residents.

One of the abandoned homes in Whitney Oregon

One of the abandoned homes in Whitney Oregon

I hope you enjoyed my Top Ten Oregon Ghost Towns list. If you’re interested in seeing what other ghost towns Oregon has, visit my comprehensive Ghost Towns of Oregon map. Please comment below if you feel I’ve left out any must see ghost towns!