City considering possibility of moving Dahlenburg Bridge from Sankey Park

Sean C. Morgan

In response to vandalism, Public Works Director Mike Adams wants to move Dahlenburg Bridge from its present location in Sankey Park to somewhere else.

Right now, he’s just coming up with ideas for the pedestrian-size covered bridge, which once crossed Ames Creek in the park.

The bridge is largely hidden from view by vegetation where it sits atop an old dam used to create a pond that divided the southern athletic fields at Sweet Home High School and Sankey Park. People could cross Ames Creek and the pond using either Weddle Bridge or Dahlenburg Bridge when it was installed.

Today, the dam no longer holds back Ames Creek, and the bridge essentially serves as an observation platform above Ames Creek.

“It’s a dead end,” Adams said. “It’s being vandalized. We seal it off, and people still get in there.”

Vandals often mark it with graffiti, Adams said. They extinguish cigarettes on the wood, and when it’s sealed, usually with chicken-wire style fencing, they rip that off, tearing out the screws and damaging the wood.

“Someone took great care and time to put it there,” Adams said. The use changed, and now it’s being neglected.

Adams said he brought up the idea of moving the bridge during a Parks Board meeting, although no formal plan has been developed. He’s planning on reaching out to the bridge’s namesake, who led the Weddle Bridge construction effort, former high school construction trades teacher Ben Dahlenburg.

“My thought is we can relocate it somewhere, another park,” Adams said.

It could go somewhere else in Sankey Park or maybe to Northside Park, Adams said. “Until we figure out where to move it, we could put it on a trailer, get it so it’s easy to move until we decide where to put it.”

Adams is looking at it from the standpoint that it’s a nice feature that is tucked away, hidden and prone to vandalism, he said. He wants to get it where it’s usable.

Dahlenburg likes the idea.

“I’d like to see it moved somewhere it could be used,” he said. “Someplace it could be functional.”

If the bridge were on a trailer, it could be used in parades, Adams said. He got that idea after seeing a covered bridge on a trailer in Eugene.

The bridge should be sturdy enough it shouldn’t be hard to move, Dahlenburg said.

It wouldn’t be anything new for a bridge that size in Sweet Home.

“Whitmore Bridge was built on a trailer to promote the Weddle Bridge, as a promo to raise funds for Weddle Bridge,” Dahlenburg said.

Whitmore Bridge now sits in Clover Memorial Park between 1st Avenue and Osage off Highway 20 at the west city limits. A committee of volunteers in 1989 brought Weddle Bridge from Stayton, after it had been dismantled, to Sweet Home to serve as a centerpiece in Sankey Park.

Whitmore Bridge “sat there next to Weddle Bridge during construction,” Dahlenburg said.

The Weddle Bridge committee had planned to raffle off Whitmore Bridge, Dahlenburg said, but a man from Virginia visited the community and saw it. He offered to buy it, and the committee accepted the offer. The man had hoped to ship it home by train, but it sat for three or four years.

The committee asked him if it could be placed at Clover Memorial Park if it the bridge were named after him, Dahlenburg said. He agreed, and that’s why the bridge carries the name “Whitmore.”

“Dahlenburg Bridge was built as practice for the Weddle Bridge,” Dahlenburg said. “It was built to be put where it is now.”

The Weddle Bridge project, which included the construction of the Whitmore and Dahlenburg bridges, was led by three people. Scott Proctor of the Oregon Department of Forestry procured equipment. Howard Dew of Cascade Timber Consulting led fund-raising efforts, and Dahlenburg led construction efforts, with help from the late Don Menear.

Dahlenburg was unaware of plans that left his name on the bridge, he said.

“I think Don Menear went to the City Council and asked them to do that.”

Dahlenburg Bridge is listed in the National Registry of Covered Bridges, Dahlenburg said.

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