Photo and story by Morissa Pawl-Frederico
There are many wonderful drives in Oregon. Some are historic, some are dotted with farms and wineries, and some are simply picturesque. One that stands out is the enchanting Highway 34 between the city of Lebanon and the Oregon Coast.
This stretch of scenic byway is known as the Alsea, named after a small town replete with an abandoned general store reminiscent of a Stephen King novel. One of the interesting things about the state of Oregon is that they tend to leave these old buildings standing rather than tear them down to make way for something modern and soulless.
In fact, I have spent many years traversing the state capturing images of ghost towns and abandoned buildings left to remind us of a place steeped in western history.
Highway 34 itself gently winds its way to the coast among forests, rivers and waterfalls, and although there is a faster option to get to the coast, the journey is meant to be enjoyed as much as the destination.
In addition to the beautiful scenery, there is a surprise waiting about three miles west of the town of Alsea, via a short turn off the highway, called the Hayden Covered Bridge. There are still about 50 of these historic bridges left in the state that once numbered almost 600. They were built in a time when covered wagons needed to safely cross small rivers in the freezing rain.
In fact, Oregon has the highest concentration of covered bridges still in existence in the West, and the Hayden is perhaps one of its most picturesque. There is just something so enchanting about turning a corner and seeing a covered bridge, and this one does not disappoint as it sits in the heart of timber country, surrounded by tall Douglas firs, cedar and hemlock trees. Romantic, alluring, and for just the briefest of moments, a chance to travel back in time. Don’t miss the chance to experience this stunning slice of Oregon.