EAGLE POINT — After nearly a quarter century, the covered bridge across Little Butte Creek has regained national historic status.
City Principal Planner Mike Upston, returning to work just after the New Year's holiday, got the news in a telephone call from the State Historic Preservation Office in Salem that the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., had agreed to relist the bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. The Park Service maintains the register.
"It's really exciting," Upston said. "We've been talking about this for five or six months now."
Built in 1922 and officially known as the Antelope Creek Bridge for the stream it originally crossed, the bridge was moved to Eagle Point in 1987. It was listed on the National Register in 1979, but after the move and subsequent modifications that changed its historic character, the bridge was removed from the register on April 18, 1988.
"There were a couple of reasons why it was delisted," Upston said, "particularly because arched windows were cut out on both sides. Since those years, the city has gone back and re-boarded it, painted it and taken a number of steps to be sure it's as consistent as possible to its historic origin."
He said the city is ordering a bronze plaque commemorating the bridge's historic status and expects to mount it on the bridge within a few weeks.
Councilman Jonathan Bilden, liaison to the city's Economic Development Commission, said he thought the relisting was big news for the city.
"In the Economic Development Commission we talk so much about tourism for the city," Bilden said. "Having that bridge listed is a great thing and I appreciate all of Mike's efforts."
Jackson County has three other covered bridges still standing. The recently rebuilt Wimer Covered Bridge across Evans Creek, the McKee Covered Bridge over the upper Applegate River and the Lost Creek Covered Bridge over Lost Creek.
With 50 still in existence, Oregon has the largest collection of covered bridges in the western United States, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation website. ODOT's guide to Oregon's covered bridges is online at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BRIDGE/docs/covbrdg/oregoncovbrdgs.pdf.
Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.