The McKee Covered Bridge
Wednesday August 3, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Covered bridges have a nostalgic appeal. They speak to a time that we think of as simpler and perhaps safer than today. McKee Bridge over the Applegate River is like that. Surrounded by trees and situated near a popular swimming hole and scenic park, the bridge--one of three covered bridges remaining in Jackson County, Oregon-- is a snapshot of Americana.
Built for pure function in 1917, the bridge solved a transportation problem. Two roads ran up the Applegate River, one on each side. They were used to access timber and for hauling ore from the Blue Ledge Copper Mine located three miles over the California boarder. The east road was difficult and dangerous, carved into a cliff. The Applegate Road, on the west side, had an easy gentle slope but bogged vehicles in mud during winter. The solution was to re-route the Applegate road, requiring a bridge mid-way between the copper mine and Jacksonville at Deb McKee's place. The wooden bridge was covered to protect its timber trusses from the weather.
Used by vehicles until 1956, the bridge, still open to pedestrians, is now a peaceful wayside preserved by the McKee Bridge Historical Society as a monument to the past.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org