Oregon Highway 101 dazzles with incredible beauty that lies around
virtually every bend. As a driver, it’s a tough road to focus on the
task of actually driving as the eye is captivating by the crashing surf,
jagged rock formations or monstrous sand dunes. The many waysides
beckon you to pull over and to take it all in, reminding yourself how
insignificant you are against nature’s power. It’s arguably one of the
most beautiful drives in the world. There’s something about its mighty
power that lures me back and am always in awe of it.
There are 20
key bridges connecting the communities along Highway 101 from Astoria to
Brookings. Statements of our ingenuity and ability to tame the
environment. And on a calm day with soft coastal breezes lapping at your
cheeks, you feel as if you’re on top of the world. These special
bridges connect us and provide easy travel to our next destination.
However, we don’t always notice them as we’re taken by the shear beauty
of the natural environment. Look closer and you realize they’re not just
utilitarian structures carrying us from points A to B,. but designed to
delight the eye and complement the environment they inhabit each in
their own way. 11 of these bridges were designed by world renowned
engineer Conde B. McCullough and built in the late 20s and 30s. Before
them, you had to take a ferry from point to point. Sadly, his Alsea Bay
Bridge, succumbed to the elements and had to be replaced in the mid 90s,
however the new structure echoes the beauty of the original.
grew up traveling across the nearly 5 mile long Astoria bridge which
connects Oregon and Washington. It’s an amazing experience speeding down
the steep main span as if you’re plunging into the river only to land
on the flat structure that makes up most of it. At times, the sideways
rain common here makes you feel as if you’re almost in the river itself.
I’ve never grown tired of crossing it.
And then there’s the
Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport – now 75 years old. It’s concrete and
metal arches dance across Yaquina Bay like a pebble skipping across a
still lake. Because he knew people would be below just as much as on his
bridges, McCullough designed the structures beneath to please the eye.
And he didn’t disappoint. Time Magazine once noted that the Yaquina Bay
Bridge was one of the most beautiful bridges in the world – and most
Wilson River Bridge, 10 Mile and Big Creek Bridges are all the same but
delicately sited. Few people stop to take them in yet they’re just as
beautiful for the way they respect their surroundings.
stop to reflect a moment, you can find yourself feeling the tenuous
relationship you have with the earth and the fleeting time we have to
occupy it. It’s a shame that we don’t savor such beauty more as we’re
caught up pushing email and chasing paper much of our lives. In fact
we’re so insulated from the elements that it’s easy to be disconnected
from the ground we walk on. What with our manufactured,
climate-controlled consumer environments. Yet no matter how much we try
to control and protect ourselves from the elements, take in the views on
the 101 and you realize quickly who holds the power.
Bridges is a celebration of these graceful structures that bring us
closer together. I'm trying to capture them in the context of their
environment as well as the details that complete the whole. Each has
many stories to tell of the people who’ve traveled up and down the
coast. Residents and tourists. Kids and families. Couples on a romantic
Starting with the Astoria-Megler bridge at the top of the
state and ending with the Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge crossing the Rogue
River in Gold Beach, come along with me on a trip down the Oregon Coast.
The end product will be a gallery exhibition in the fall of 2012 featuring a mix of large prints of each bridge and smaller prints that showcase each of these bridges in their environment. There will also be a finely-produced coffee table book plus a short film about the drive down the Oregon coast. Your support will help cover the cost of film, high-resolution drum scans and gallery prints. Anything above the minimum will go towards enhancing the gallery show and production of the film.