On the north side of Pringle Creek, at the corner of Trade and Commercial, is one of my favorite trees.
Brutalist landscaping of the Civic Center, and the equally brutal Boise ruins, it's a talisman for age, persistence, and beauty.
Fortunately, in the bridge replacement, I'm told they will be retaining and protecting most of the trees, including this one. The project isn't perfect, of course, but nothing is; and all things considered, it's hard to find fault with this piece of the road bond. If a "great" project would add a buffered bike lane or cycle track the length of Commercial, at least this does no harm, and the improvements for walking along the creek will be very nice indeed.
Conde McCullough. You may recall a note in passing about the Yaquina Bay Bridge. McCullough lived in Salem, designing it and many other 1920s and 30s bridges on Highway 101 and elsewhere around the state. (He should be a bigger deal than he is at present!)
Part of the archeological and historical assessment was to determine how much the design might actually owe to him. Relative to the great bridges on the coast that are of unquestioned provenance, the Commercial Street bridge is plain and humble.
So we might say the bridge offers a trace of the great history of bridge design in Oregon. It's one of those things that doesn't need to be preserved, but which for its age and links to grander history at least deserves a tip of the cap. Life and history move on, things pass away, but when you bike, walk, or drive by, take a moment to think about design and beauty in the built environment here in Salem. (We need a renaissance of good design here! Too much is pedestrian in the bad sense of the word.)
Here's another view of the flume that will be demolished. It turns out it's not very old. The historical assessment concluded that it dated from mid-century and was related to the pulp and paper business and not to any of the earlier flouring mill or lumbering activities on the site.
The project team will also be alert to signs of pre-settlement Kalapuya, ready to pause should human remains or historically significant traces be found.
(For more on the flouring mill and a plan view of the path system, see the earlier note on the bridge replacement.)
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