Several years ago, as we were coming home down Highway 58, we needed to stop a minute and stretch our legs. We pulled into the parking lot at the Lowell Covered Bridge expecting to just walk around and view the bridge. We were surprised to find a wonderful little wayside and Interpretive Center. Since then, we’ve been back numerous times. There is a lot to offer here and it is a great place to take friends and family. If you like covered bridges, or know someone who does, I consider this place a “must see” sight.
The Lowell Covered Bridge is one of our newer covered bridges. Built in 1945 (and covered in 1947) it was raised by six feet in 1953 before Dexter Dam was put in place. Calculations were so accurate for the raising of the bridge that it appears to barely float above the reservoir, yet the water has never risen more that 2 feet from the bottom of the bridge. In 1981 is was bypassed by a concrete bridge.
You might notice how wide it is – at 24 feet wide it is our widest covered bridge. In fact, because of the structural elements of building with wood, when roadways exceed a width of 24 feet then steel must be used instead of wood.*
In 2005 the bridge was converted into a very well done interpretive center. There is an information kiosk outside the bridge, a timeline of Oregon covered bridge history on the passageway to the bridge, and then more informational panels inside the bridge. You can learn about the history of the Lowell area, the history of this specific covered bridge, the covered bridge history of Oregon, and the structure elements of covered bridges. Or, you can just enjoy the nice views and browse the old photos.
I especially enjoy it on clear days when the bridge reflects in the smooth water of Dexter Reservoir.
To reach the Lowell Covered Bridge and Interpretive Center from Cottage Grove: Head north on I-5. We like to take the Creswell Exit (#182) and head right (east) on Cloverdale Road for 6.5 miles. Cloverdale Road ends at Highway 58. Take a right and go east through Pleasant Hill. The Lowell Covered Bridge and Interpretive Center is 9 miles east of Pleasant Hill just off Highway 58.
* This information is from “Covered Bridges of the West, A History and Illustrated Guide: Washington, Oregon, and California” by Kramer A Adams. Published in 1963 by Howell-North Books.