BY JUSTINA COELHO WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10TH 2016
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Travelling along Marcola Road in Springfield, you might not know you're driving past a rare piece of history.
Julie Bowers said the Hayden Bridge is part of American history. Bowers is with the non-profit "Workin' Bridges" based in Iowa. She traveled across the country to help preserve the Hayden Railway Bridge.
Bowers said she's never seen anything like it; the best-preserved iron railway bridge in the country.
"It's unaltered in its technical and engineering, which makes it a valuable resource," Bowers said.
The bridge has spanned the McKenzie River since 1901, and it was an important link to the timber industry that helped Springfield get its start.
Earlier this summer the Weyerhaeuser Company gave it to Workin' Bridges for $1, along with their blessing to transform the forgotten trestles and the surrounding area into a brand new park with river access, benches and bike trails.
Nearby business owners say they hope the project will drive economic activity in the area.
Jose Torres, owner of the Hayden Bridge Tap House, is one of them.
"The traffic going there would give more exposure to the businesses, so it would bring more traffic to our local businesses." Torres said.
Torres says the name of his business is a nod to the bridge's historical value.
"Hayden Bridge was one of the first locations that started Springfield, so we figure we'd bring that back. It's kind of like a little part of history," he said.
He says land is not the only thing the project is bridging.
"You're bringing the community together, but also bringing families closer together." Torres added. "You're also letting Eugene come over to discover new areas of Springfield."