Oregon has the most covered bridges in the west and one of the largest collections in the country. Around 1850, the pioneers began building bridges out of the plentiful Douglas fir. They then built houses on them to protect them from the Oregon dampness. There was once hundreds of these covered bridges and now only 51 exist in several counties in Oregon.
From Portland, the Willamette Valley, central and southern Oregon as well as the Coast, covered bridge history is alive and well due to the recognition of these historic sites and the repair and revitalization of the covered bridges.
Activities around the state are actually centered at these bridge sites. The Mid Valley Covered Bridge Bicycle Tour is in August and this event draws hundreds of bicyclists through the bridges with nice easy roads that offer a scenic tour of the country side as well as the covered bridges.
Last year, the Covered Bridge Festival moved to Albany and drew thousands of visitors from all over the world. The history and beauty of these old bridges remains a romantic draw even today. The festival drew several guests to our inn last summer and by bicycle, many of them rode off to see the five covered bridges in Scio and Stayton. Food, entertainment, reenactments and demonstrations are all part of the festival. And, if you just want a nice ride on a comfy bus, you can enjoy your own personal tour with one of original bridge builders as your guide.
We enjoyed the self-guided covered bridge tour when we went in the fall a few years ago. Not only did we enjoy the romantic drive, the bridges with the fall foliage as a backdrop was breath taking. Since then, we have sent many guests on a self guided quest to experience the same.
In Jackson County, Oregon, the McKee bridge near Jacksonville is aptly near the Tou Velle House Bed and Breakfast. An Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild inn, this three story Craftsman style home is nestled in historic Jacksonville, Oregon in the Rogue Valley. It is only 5 miles from Medford and 17 miles from Ashland. This Oregon Bed and Breakfast makes for the perfect base to go exploring by bicycle or auto.
In Lane County, you have 19 covered bridges from Belknap to the Wildcat Creek bridges to tour. The Oval Door Bed and Breakfast Inn, offers 6 guest rooms, gourmet breakfasts prepped and served by culinary trained chef/innkeepers. This inn is an Oregon Bed and Breakfast Guild inn as well as a newly built farm-style house in the heart of Eugene, Oregon.
In Benton County, you can tour Irish Bend. This covered bridge along with 2 others are close to Corvallis and the Harrison House Bed and Breakfast. This 1930's home offers 5 guest rooms and provides lodging in Oregon that you can write home about. The inn is close to the OSU campus, gourmet restaurants, and downtown Corvallis.
I think it's time to pack your bags, your picnic basket, your bikes, and check in to a Oregon Bed & Breakfast to begin your tour of some of Oregon's most romantic history.