In 2016 the historic bridge turned 100! Built in 1916, the Gallon House Bridge is the last covered bridge, as well as the oldest bridge, in Marion County, and one of the oldest bridges in Oregon. The 84 foot Howe truss bridge is located over Abiqua Creek a little more than a mile northwest of Silverton.
History of the Bridge
Marion County built the Gallon House Covered Bridge over Abiqua Creek in rural Marion County in 1916 at a cost of $1,310. The name Gallon House was due to the bridge’s use as a “liquor drop” by bootleggers. The State of Oregon became a “dry state” in 1916, when Governor West signed into law a prohibition on the sale of alcohol. At the time Silverton was “dry” and had a municipal code that prohibited liquor from being sold in town, while Mt. Angel was “wet” and residents got around the law by “giving” each other alcohol, hiding the money that made it a sale rather than a gift. Operators at a liquor dispensary nearby sold “white lightening” whiskey by the gallon to Silverton residents from a little shack – a “gallon house” – located on the Mt. Angel side of the bridge.
During the Christmas Flood of 1964, the bridge was swept off its footings and suffered considerable damage. Since it was the county’s only covered bridge, the Marion County Board of Commissioners decided it should be repaired and maintained as a historical landmark.
In 1985, the bridge was closed to all traffic when a damaged chord rendered it useless. County road crews repaired the bridge to accept traffic up to a 10-ton limit by reinforcing a lower chord, as well as making repairs to the beams and flooring. Also included in the renovation was a change in the size and shape of the portals. The revamped portals were hinged to allow them to be opened for taller loads when necessary. In 1990, because of poor structural condition, the bridge was rehabilitated to mint condition, and the hinged portals were removed.
The Gallon House Bridge is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the World Guide to Covered Bridges, and listed in the Library of Congress National Covered Bridges Recording Project.
How To Get There: From Salem, travel north on Highway 213 (Silverton Road NE) about 14 miles to Silverton. At Silverton, travel north on Highway 214 to Hobart Road. Turn west on Hobart Road to Gallon House Road (0.5 miles). Turn north on Gallon House Road.
(From the Marion County Website)