A Drain Revisit

A few months ago while researching for a short piece about Drain, Oregon I came across three black and white photographs, circa 1911, of a train trestle, a covered bridge, and a bird’s eye of view of the town the covered bridge was briefly mentioned in that project all set aside, forgotten. However, after the story was published, and the fact that I visit the town regularly for work, a strong desire grew to locate the structures, take pictures, and then publish these next to the older copies. This article is the result of my effort.

Pass Creek flows between Cottage Grove and Drain, once giving life to the timber industry in the processing of lumber and now just farmland dot the banks as it twist and turns it’s way into Elk Creek. The two bridges intersect Pass Creek side by side; the covered bridge (built in 1925 to replace one built in 1876 that was along the Roseburg to Scottsburg and the Oregon Coast route of the Overland Stagecoach) was moved in the 1980’s and replaced with a concrete bridge, the trestle is still at it’s original spot. Information directs me to the northern portion of Drain but I come up empty so rechecking material while perusing a map,A-ha, the bridges are, in fact, about one mile south of where I first looked.

One of the 1911 photographs show a spacious landscape sparse trees and bushes, homes with picket fencing, and steam locomotives near the depot, today the area is overgrown with blackberry bushes, Vine Maple, and Douglas Fir trees, fences replaced with barking dogs. Like a kid in a candy store excitement oozes as I park the Scion near the trestle close to where horse and coach took travelers to and from the Pacific Ocean. Southern Pacific Railroad moved freight along the tracks and across the trestle (built in 1906) today it is Union Pacific and local railroads moving commerce.

Another of the photographs was snapped on the railroad tracks from the south looking north into the trestle, the town of Drain appears in the background on the left edge of the picture a portion of the covered bridge. When the trestle was constructed modern technology of the time required guardrails to prevent derailments on bridges and sharp curves, I make numerous exposures of the trestle with a modern town in the background, the guardrails removed no longer necessary, the water tower gone as well as the train depot, other wooden structures replaced with conifer and deciduous trees.

A third picture was taken along the banks of Pass Creek with a young girl in the foreground both bridges in the background (a pastoral scene Beethoven would be proud of) proved difficult to replicate. Setting up the tripod, I snap numerous pictures from different spots keeping in mind where the girl stood in relation to the bridges as today the once rustic landscape is now thick in overgrowth.

After capturing the modern shot on the banks of Pass Creek I wonder who the girl was and what became of her, how and why the area became overgrown which gives an uninviting, spooky impression but, then maybe that was the intention. I so wish to have a time machine and go back to this era if only for a week to experience the energy that flowed throughout. By the way, the photograph of Drain from a bird’s eye I could not duplicate as that shot was taken from what is now private property.

click on photographs for better viewing

I thank you

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