Alan Haley, Public Works Director for Marion County, spoke about the construction of the bridge in 1916 and it’s original cost of $1310. Marion County Commission Chair Kevin Cameron talked about the bridge and area’s colorful past. The Gallon House Bridge was so-named because of its proximity to a local “gallon house” that reportedly sold bootleg spirits in the early decades of the 20th century. On June 6, 1904, Oregon voters approved the Local Option Act that allowed each city to ban the sale of alcohol. Silverton citizens subsequently voted to be “dry,” while Mt. Angel voters chose to allow the sale of alcohol.
According to local folklore, an enterprising saloon owner erected a small house on the north end of the bridge and stocked it with liquor. Residents of Silverton who wanted to partake walked to the bridge, crossed it to the Mt. Angel side and purchased a bottle, jug, or fruit jar and returned home. Folks got around the law by selling the gallon jugs, but “giving away” the spirits. Local residents have seen many events at the Gallon House Bridge over the years, from weddings to baptisms in Abiqua Creek and even rival bootlegger violence during prohibition.