The Jordan Covered Bridge began life in 1937 straddling Thomas Creek east of Scio in Linn County. It looked like many covered bridges built at that time by Linn County, with its sides open to expose the trusses. This design feature increased light in the bridge, improved visibility for motorists, offered less wind resistance, and was more visually appealing. The Jordan Covered Bridge carried Linn County traffic for almost half a century.
Fortunately, in 1986 when Linn County announced that the bridge needed to be replaced, the town of Stayton (in nearby Marion County) asked to have it. They had just a spot for it, crossing the Salem Power Canal and serving as a foot bridge to connect two parks – Pioneer Park and Wilderness Park. The Jordon Covered Bridge was dismantled in 1986 and with the assistance of volunteers and Marine Corp reservists, it was rebuilt in Stayton, with a dedication ceremony in June of 1988.
One of the age-old problems and concerns with wooden covered bridges is their vulnerability to fire. And, unfortunately, on December 20, 1994, it is fire that destroyed the original Jordan Covered Bridge; the cause was an electrical short in some Christmas lights on its roof. The bridge burned beyond restoration. The city demolished what was left of the trusses and burned everything else.
The town of Stayton so loved their bridge that the decision to rebuild it was immediate. A non-profit committee was formed, presented a viable plan to the city council, and were granted the insurance money from the fire. Work on the new bridge began on May 16, 1998 and was completed just four months later, for a dedication ceremony on September 26. The new bridge, built with all new wood, is named the Stayton-Jordan Covered Bridge.
I knew none of this history when we stopped by Pioneer Park in Stayton last summer for a picnic lunch. I knew only that there was a covered bridge in the park and it might be a good place to walk around for a minute as we were taking a leisurely drive down Highway 99E. Pioneer Park was full of people that day, families with young kids, couples, folks out for a stroll, and teenagers frequently using the bridge on their way to somewhere else. There were just a couple picnic tables available, but luckily, one of them had this view. After finishing lunch we walked around and enjoyed the covered bridge. It was so unlike any that we have in Lane County that it set the course for the rest of our day. As we left the park, we stopped by the tourist information center and got maps to find the other Linn County covered bridges.