In This Issue:
"Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge"
The Covered Bridge Project

How to Get Involved -- Volunteers Wanted
Grant High School Students Designing
"Oregon Country Settlement"


"Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" 
Pulls Together Volunteers as Working Partners for this Unique Project

How did you ever come up with the idea for a covered bridge at "Rhododendron Meadow"? is a question being asked more and more as people begin to realize just how special such an undertaking is. Well, to get the
answer to this question, you need to start at the very beginning when "Rhododendron Meadow" was thankfully saved from a proposed condominium development. 


In the Autumn of 1998, the Cascade Geographic Society purchased the 14.5 acres in the Village of Rhododendron known as "Rhododendron Meadow". This area, which had never been developed, was going to be turned into condominiums, in spite of the fact that this acreage contained protected federal and state wetlands. The existing zoning of the property unfortunately would have enabled development to occur.

The Cascade Geographic Society had to mortgage "everything but their souls" in order to purchase "Rhododendron Meadow". Because this wetland area was zoned for development, purchasing the property was the only way to protect both the acreage and its heritage resources.

"Rhododendron Meadow" became part of our "Sanctuary Lands Program". This program was established by the Cascade Geographic Society for the protection of fish and wildlife and their habitats (including Winter Range for biggame), wetlands, and riparian areas, as well as cultural and historic resources.

Education was another objective for preserving "Rhododendron Meadow". Its unique resources, consisting of wetlands, riparian areas, streams like Henry Creek, Little Henry Creek, and Meadow Creek, as well as the adjacent Whiskey Jack Creek, not forgetting its fish and wildlife habitats, its segments of the Oregon Trail, and Native American cultural sites, make for an ideal outdoor classroom.

At "Rhododendron Meadow", spanning Henry Creek, was a bridge that had been constructed by a former property owner for a proposed housing development, which allowed access to a ten-acre parcel. This bridge was made out of a truck trailer from a semi, and rests on steel I-beams, with the span's decking being wood planks. All of this is resting on two existing concrete footings from a former bridge. This bridge was built without the required Clackamas County permit.

The existing bridge is important to have because it allows pedestrian access across Henry Creek. Access is a must because we are restoring this acreage due to the damage to habitat and resources caused by a previous property owner. Without the bridge, volunteers doing the work would have to "ford" the stream, which would obviously be dangerous and inconvenient.

The other reason to maintain a bridge in this location is for fire protection. Access is also a must to the ten acres in case of wildfire.

Covered Bridge Project

The Cascade Geographic Society wants to save this bridge over Henry Creek. Our plan is to turn it into a covered bridge, which would enable us to maintain the planking on the span's deck inexpensively.

The "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" will be the first covered bridge built on Mount Hood in over a hundred years. The approximate size will be 25 feet wide by 30 feet long. It would be constructed out of wood timbers and 1" x 12" cedar boards, and a roof constructed out of cedar shakes.

The Navy Reserve's SeaBe's will actually do the construction on the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge". With their talent and willingness to take on something this different, the end result should not only be spectacular, but will look as if it was constructed with the craftsmanship of a bygone time, of hand tools and ingenuity.

At this time it looks as if two students from a school in Portland, Oregon, will provide the engineering for this unique span. Larry Wilson's engineering students at Grant High School --- Taylor Hall (junior) and David Smith (senior) --- will be providing the drawings needed for this first covered bridge on Mount Hood in over a hundred years. David Smith, a senior, and Taylor Hall, a junior, will be assisted by volunteer engineers who will help oversee their work and provide their expertise.

Everyone who works on this project will have their name associated with the history of this bridge. A plaque that will be located on the inside of the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" will identify all of those involved in making this mere vision a reality.

The "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" will serve as more than just a covered bridge. It will also be an interpretive site where people can come to learn about the fish and wildlife resources, the botany, the Oregon Trail (which a segment goes through), and about the Native Americans who used "Rhododendron Meadow". In addition, the information will feature the restoration work that has been done on restoring the acreage.

So just how did we come up with this idea for the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" project? Well, like the pioneers who came before us who built these covered bridges to cut down on maintenance costs of the bridge planking, we are also doing it for this very same reason, plus a whole lot more, which includes creating something that will be left behind for future generations who will follow in our footsteps.

How To Get Involved

Cascade Geographic Society is creating a new historical landmark by bringing the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" into reality. And, to do so, there is plenty of work to do on this first covered bridge project on Mount Hood in over a hundred years.

Volunteers are needed in a variety of capacities for the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" project. Needed, for example, are people to do site plans, architectural renderings, grant writing, fund-raising, historical research, and a whole lot more.

Volunteers are the "lifeblood" to the Cascade Geographic Society and our projects. If you would like to assist us in the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge", the first covered bridge on Mount Hood in over a hundred years, please get in touch with us at (503) 622-4798.

Volunteers Wanted! Call Cascade Geographic Society at (503) 622-4798.

Grant High School Students Designing "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge"

Two Grant High School students, from Portland, Oregon, have undertaken something that most engineers and architects today would have never envisioned doing: designing a covered bridge. This unique structure is located on the western slopes of Mount Hood, in the Village of Rhododendron, at a beautifully wide area known as "Rhododendron Meadow".

"Rhododendron Meadow" is an 18 acre sanctuary land that has been set aside by the Cascade Geographic Society for the protection of natural, cultural, and historical resources in perpetuity. A covered bridge at this location will allow access across Henry Creek in order to enhance and restore wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat.

Most people cannot even begin to imagine high school students designing what is called the "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge". This is the first covered bridge in over a hundred years on Mount Hood, so junior Taylor Hall and senior David Smith are going to have a very unique addition to their professional resume.

Taylor and David are students of Larry Wilson, a Grant High School teacher who believes in getting his students involved in projects that will assist them later in life. The "Rhododendron Meadow Covered Bridge" is an example of such a project.

Michael P, Jones, the Curator of the Cascade Geographic Society, said that he and his organization is indebted to the work that Taylor and David are doing, and the support and encouragement of their teacher Larry Wilson. He also praised Grant High School for having such a great program where students can get such real-life experience.

"This covered bridge project is a partnership between the Cascade Geographic Society and Grant High School," explained Michael. "When this project is complete, it will be part of its legacy."

"Oregon Country Settlement" to Open in the Year 2002?

Can it or can it not be done? The Cascade Geographic Society is anticipating the opening of their "Oregon Country Settlement" in the Year 2002. This would be a living history center that would feature a variety of small museums with different themes.

The "Oregon Country Settlement" would include a replica of a toll gate on the Oregon Trail, a Native American Village, a Mountain Man rendezvous encampment, an Oregon Trail camp, a pioneer village with a trading post, blacksmith shop, wheelwright, washhouse, carpenter shop, jail, "Community House" (i.e., combination school and church building), doctor's quarters, water tower, storytelling lodge, Nature Center, and a lot more.

The museums at the "Oregon Country Settlement" would provide an important accent to the living history that would take place on the site. This would include one that would focus on the Oregon Trail, another on Northwest Native American art and culture, another on pioneer tools and the Civilian Conservation Corps, and another on Mount Hood and its historic villages and settlements.

The "Oregon Country Settlement" will be located on a portion of a 3.5-acre parcel owned by the Cascade Geographic Society. This living history center would be utilized by schools and private organizations, as well as by the public-at-large during special days and events.

So, can it or can it not be done? Time will only tell, and this is the goal. If you would like to assist Cascade Geographic Society with this project, please contact us by calling (503) 622-4798; or, write us at: P.O. Box 398, Rhododendron, Oregon 97049. The "Oregon Country Settlement"  could use your assistance.