I just stumbled onto this picture of the 1926 construction of the Crooked River Bridge.
Truly amazing and frightening.
A new bridge has been built, but this one still stands and is used for foot traffic only.
When construction of the new bridge started in late 1997, Chuck Hutchings was there filming. And when construction was completed and the bridge was opened to the public in September 2000, he was there again.
The construction of what is now known as the Rex T. Barber Veterans Memorial Bridge is the subject of a 30-minute documentary, “A Story of Three Bridges,” which will show on Oregon Public Broadcasting in March.
Hutchings, a Spanish instructor at Central Oregon Community College, is the man behind the camera. In the late 1990s, he enlisted the help of Ward Tonsfeldt, then an English professor at COCC and local historian who served on the bridge design committee.
Hutchings began the project while taking summer instructional technology classes at Utah State University with an eye toward using more technology in his Spanish classes. One of those classes, on videography, required a video project. Coming from a family of contractors, Hutchings had an interest in construction and decided to make his video about the new highway bridge construction getting under way.
ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said the highway bridge is a bigger project than any other in recent Oregon history.
“The old one didn’t fit the needs of the trucking industry,” he said. “The trucks are bigger and heavier and longer and faster.”
To deal with the influx of people coming into Central Oregon, the Department of Transportation decided to build the new bridge in 1997.“It was a recognition that Central Oregon was changing, and ODOT was accommodating those changes,” Murphy said. “The nature of vehicles had changed, as had the nature of travel. … It also opened up, in the same way that almost the railroad opened up Central Oregon, the Crooked River bridge opened up this incredible land, the natural resources, the tourism industry.”
The new bridge replaced a highway bridge built by Conde McCullough in 1926, which still stands and is open to foot traffic. Also still standing is the 1911 railroad bridge that first opened up the area to travelers and business.
ODOT allowed Hutchings access to the project while it was under way and gave him grant money as well.
When an interesting part of construction was going to take place, the ODOT engineer on site would call Hutchings, who would head over to get it on film.
He was allowed to crawl out onto areas of the bridge in the midst of construction, and ODOT even offered to send him out on a boom over the canyon. Hutchings didn’t do it, and he regrets it.
This page is pictures from around Central Oregon. Enjoy the beauty!