If you have the opportunity to travel U.S. 101 the length of the Oregon Coast crossing its many estuaries you will be treated to a series of remarkable engineering feats, Depression Era bridges, built to replace outmoded ferries. While not on the iconic scale of the Golden Gate, these bridges nevertheless inspire awe. They are not only economical and functional in linking the coastal highway system but also reflect designs in tune with the times: Art Deco and Art Moderne motifs with borrowed elements from Gothic architecture. A number of these bridges were designed by Conde B. McCullough, an Oregon bridge designer and highway engineer, and like the Golden Gate Bridge were the fruits of the federal Public Works Administration’s (WPA) efforts during the 1930’s.
The Yaquina Bay Bridge spans the Yaquina Bay at Newport, Oregon. Begun in 1934 and completed in 1936. The main span of 600 feet is a semi-through arch with two 350-foot identical flanking arches. The main piers are topped by tall concrete finials and the flanking spans with smaller decorative elements distinguished by their Art Deco flourishes.
Further south is the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge, a cantilever bridge at 5,305 feet spanning Coos Bay near North Bend, Oregon. Originally named the Coos Bay Bridge it was completed in 1936. It is a graceful structure of form and function. Its thirteen arches are very pleasing to the eye of the observer.
Closer to the Northern California border at the town of Gold Beach is the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge, a concrete arch bridge spanning the Rogue River just above its entry into the Pacific Ocean. Its span is 1,938 feet and it was completed in 1932. Design elements include pylons at its extremities incorporating stepped art moderne pylons with Palladian windows.
All of these bridges are entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo: Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge; Author – Lynn Ketchum, Oregon State University; License – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Photo: Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge; Author – Cacophony; License – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en