A Bridge with a House...: Oregon's Covered Bridges
by Steven E. Hunnicutt
BookVenture Publishing, LLC

"A bridge with a house reminds us of the horse and buggy day, of a slower pace of life, of a town long since gone…."

This photographic journey of the covered bridges of Oregon provides lovely images of these picturesque structures while also providing historical details and intriguing anecdotes for each bridge. Hunnicutt’s love for Oregon and for the covered bridges is evident in each snapshot and accompanying text. The contents of this sprawling coffee table book explore the practical purposes and aesthetic appeal of a covered bridge. Their rustic charm and romantic allure cannot be denied, but covering a bridge is also a valued protective measure that lengthens and strengthens the lifespan of a bridge. Hunnicutt effectively captures both the idyllic qualities of the sites he photographs and the facts of their creation and use.

Turning the pages reveals color images of the bridges followed by bursts of text perfect for browsing, lingering, or close examination. Interesting tidbits abound like the list of possible uses for the covered bridges which include weddings, rallies, meetings, and “secluded” kissing. At least part of the allure of the covered bridge is the privacy they ensure and the shelter they provide if only for a brief interlude while passing through from one side to the other. But their purpose has evolved through the decades, and Hunnicutt expertly guides the reader through that history with earnest simplicity.

Readers will feel they are on the road with a trusted Oregon guide as they follow the trail of photographs, county by county, bridge by bridge. Around each bend, a stunning reminder of the past comes into view, a pleasing house for a bridge. These preserved wonders of the past inspire nostalgia for a simpler time that seems unhurried and that embraces the natural world, building within the trees and over the water with an appreciation for a country setting. Hunnicutt, as knowledgeable tour guide, reminds readers that the wooden covered bridges were designed to protect the roadway and also to keep livestock calm as they crossed over water. This functional design has stood the test of time as the covered bridges dot the landscape of Oregon, but they have evolved into romantic markers as well.

Many will remember the novella and film The Bridges of Madison County from the 1990s which generated a brief but intense craze for covered bridges, an integral part of the rural Iowa setting from the story which served as a backdrop for longing and desire. Hunnicutt does not stray from Oregon, as he remains committed to showing off the covered beauties of this state only. But his beautiful photographs might awaken in some readers the remembered romance and magic of Madison County.

The country roads captured by Hunnicutt are indelible despite their seemingly simplistic construction and barnlike plainness. They exist in stark contrast to sleek and modern skyscraper bridges that are grand feats of progress. Today’s bridges are engineering marvels, miracles of the Moses variety, for a bridge is a way of parting the waters for safe passage. Hunnicutt’s covered bridges of Oregon accomplish the same miracle but with stark beauty and rustic elegance. This book is a lovely appreciation for Oregon’s very photogenic and miraculous covered bridges.

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