Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Green Bridge of Sheridan

Sheridan is an incorporated town located between McMinnville and Willamina, on the South Yamhill River, in Yamhill County.  Platted in 1866, a major feature of the community from the start has been the bridge, connecting the business district on the south bank of the river, with the county road, what is now the Willamina-Sheridan Highway, on the north.  If you wanted to get across the river, you went to Sheridan, to the end of Bridge Street, and did.

The wooden bridge (there may have been more than one, Sheridan has a long and sad history of fire and flood) was replaced by a steel thru truss in 1910.  We know this from photos that show the bridge before the big fire of 1913, and from a short notice in the Oregonian about several Sheridan merchants that were upset about being assessed for the cost of the approach spans.  That first steel bridge was reportedly salvaged from its original location, across the Willamette River, in Portland.  Moving steel bridges around was an early form of municipal recycling.

But Sheridan prospered, despite the floods (there was a bad one in 1921) and the fires (another in 1922, destroyed most of the commercial district) and soon traffic outgrew the salvaged steel span that was probably 20 years old before it made it ever made it to Sheridan.  In 1939 the Mountain States Construction Company, of Eugene, put the finishing touches on Sheridan’s last bridge, a 131’ long Parker-design thru truss designed by the Oregon State Highway Department and funded in part by the New Deal’s Public Works Administration.  The Sheridan Bridge still stands, almost entirely intact, eight decades later.  Painted by OSHD as they painted most of their steel spans during that era, it’s affectionately known as the Green Bridge.

Sheridan has received funding to rehab the bridge, to improve its structural capacity for seismic, to repaint to protect the steel from the elements, and to keep it as the iconic landmark in downtown for a long time.  It’s a great project...and a fun one to document too.

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