The Gallon House Bridge over Abiqua Creek in rural Marion County is celebrating 100 years as the oldest bridge in Marion County and one of the oldest in Oregon. County officials and the public gathered on May 31 at the bridge for this special rededication. The Gallon House Bridge is listed in the Library of Congress National Covered Bridges Recording Project as “Significant” as the last covered bridge in Marion County and the oldest continuous use covered bridge in the State of Oregon.

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.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners has recognized the 100th anniversary of the Gallon House Covered Bridge and has proclaimed 2016 the “Year of the Gallon House Bridge”.