By Justin Much, Stayton Mail, February 11, 2015
Mill City’s historical pedestrian railroad bridge has been an iconic span in the North Santiam Canyon for almost 100 years.
A group of residents and bridge advocates have undertaken a mission to ensure it’s around for perhaps another century, or longer.
City of Mill City recently contracted with the engineering firm Ausland Group of Eugene to complete an in-depth inspection of the bridge. Ausland spent nearly a week on site inspecting everything from the wrought iron columns to the wood decking. The firm outlined the bridge’s condition and proposals for maintenance and repair in a report delivered to the city council, including a rough estimate of $400,000 to preserve.
“The good news is that no major structural issues were found,” said Lynda Harrington, a key organizer for Save Our Bridge, the ad hoc committee dedicated to preserving the bridge. “There are some heavy timber substructure supports that need to be replaced within the next three years. In addition, the decking is deteriorating and will need to be replaced.”
The committee is working with the city of Mill City with an aim to ensure the historic structure is restored back to its former glory. As a part of this process SOB meets on a monthly basis and was very involved in the inspection process, according to City Recorder Stacie Cook.
City council minutes from Jan. 27 note that committee member Roel Lundquist advised the council that the inspection report included two proposals; one to take the stringers or support timbers out and replace them, and the other proposal to leave them. The committee favored the latter.
Cook said the committee is reviewing the proposed maintenance and repair suggestions provided by Ausland to formulate a plan of action, including discussions surrounding aesthetics, materials, historic preservation and fundraising.
Harrington said project funding is expected to be raised through a mix of city funds, grants, foundations and private donors.
“We hope to have the funding in place within the next two years and the repairs and restoration begun in early 2017,” Harrington said. “This bridge is significant to the town both historically, as it hauled logs for almost half a century in support of the timber industry, and aesthetically, as it crosses the beautiful North Santiam River at the entrance to town.”
Harrington itemized interesting historical tidbits regarding the bridge, placing and dating it back to pre-Mill City days.
“The bridge is architecturally rare in that it is a Phoenix Column bridge, manufactured in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in 1888, moved to San Jose, California, then on to Lake Oswego at the turn of the century,” she said. “It was moved to Mill City in 1919 where it was shortened to 120 feet to span the North Santiam River. ”
Harrington said Southern Pacific Railroad abandoned the bridge around 1967 and it was converted to a pedestrian bridge by the city shortly afterward. It stands to be a one-of-a-kind in Oregon.
“The Mill City Pedestrian Bridge will soon to be the only Phoenix Column bridge in Oregon as the other one, which is in Cottage Grove, is being dismantled,” Harrington said.
The Save Our Bridge committee meets at 2 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month city hall, 444 S 1st Ave. For information, contact city hall at (503) 897-2302 or attend one of the meetings.
“Visitors are welcome to attend the meeting to learn more about this gem in the North Santiam Canyon and how they can help insure that it will be here for future generations,” Harrington stressed.
Ausland Group offers complete capital improvement expertise in development consulting, engineering, and construction. For more information, visit us at https://auslandgroup.com/
Ausland Group | February 12, 2015