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Guest Author | 11/19/2021 | Fishing , History, Itineraries, Outdoor Recreation, Scenic Byway

Stops Along the Marys Peak to Pacific Coast Scenic Byway: Alsea, Oregon

On a drive along the Marys Peak to Pacific Coast Scenic Byway you'll head right through Alsea. This cute little village is a slice of Oregon history.

Alsea takes its name from the Alsea River, which itself was named for a Native American tribe, the Alsi (now known as the Alsea), who lived at the mouth of the river. Alsea was settled by Europeans around 1855, as shown by the name "Alseya Settlement," which showed up on the Surveyor General's map at the time. Logging used to be the primary industry in Alsea, but it's now better known as an excellent place for fishing on the Alsea River, as well as being a great stopping point for cyclers.

The Alsea, Oregon U.S. Post Office, by Rick Obst (CC BY 2.0). - A small building of red and beige brick.The Alsea, Oregon U.S. Post Office, by Rick Obst (CC BY 2.0).

There is archeological evidence of native trails throughout this portion of the Alsea Valley, indicating that tribes traversed over the mountains from the lower Alsea River Valley to the Willamette Valley. The first permanent settlement here was in the mid-1850s, when a few white farmers took claim to the area. The town of Alsea (map) established a post office in 1871. The small community of farmers and ranchers, however, remained isolated. It was not until the growth of the regional lumber industry improved highways for trucks to use for hauling logs that Alsea became more connected to the surrounding region.

The Alsea district produced 100 million board feet of timber per year in its heyday, but that shrank to only 10 million board feet by the time the Alsea Ranger Station, that had at one time employed 90 permanent and 40 seasonal workers, closed in March 1998. These days, the unincorporated community is home to a number of the old logging families, but also families who moved in for a rural lifestyle but commute to Corvallis or Albany for work.

The Alsea Falls Recreation Area is one of two spurs this tour offers off of the Scenic Byway. Alsea Falls Recreation Area is approximately eight miles (13 km) southeast of Alsea on the Alsea-Deadwood Highway. It's a great opportunity to get out of your car for mountain biking, hiking, swimming, and fishing. In the town of Alsea, turn off of Highway 34 onto the Alsea-Deadwood Highway to visit Alsea Falls Recreation Area (map).

Hayden Covered Bridge, near Alsea, Oregon, by 46Percent, Public Domain - A historic white covered bridge that spans the Alsea RiverHayden Covered Bridge, near Alsea, Oregon, by "46Percent."

Two miles west of the town of Alsea, on Hayden Road just off Highway 34, is the Hayden Covered Bridge (map). It's a 91 foot long covered bridge and is one of only seven remaining historic covered bridges in Oregon built before 1920. The Hayden Covered Bridge is a timber Howe Truss bridge which uses iron rods to support the wooden trusses. The bridge was partially or totally rebuilt in 1945 to accommodate larger loads. There are daylight window strips below the roof line on both sides of the bridge, bringing natural light into its interior.

Covered bridges were once common in Oregon with over 600 throughout the state. The Oregon State Highway Department constructed Howe Truss bridges, such as the Hayden Covered Bridge, because they were relatively easy to assemble and transport. As the logging industry grew in the 1940s and 1950s, many of Oregon’s covered bridges were replaced with bridges better suited for logging trucks and large vehicles. The few bridges that do remain have become valuable tourist attractions. The Hayden Covered Bridge outside Alsea is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Marys Peak to Pacific Coast Scenic Byway Driving Tour App

A Driving Tour from City to Sea: Willamette Valley, Alsea River Valley & More

Come with us on a driving tour of one of Oregon’s newest scenic and historic byways. From the highest point in the Coast Range to the broad, sandy beaches of the Central Coast, follow the Alsea River on a delightfully meandering 72-mile driving tour from Corvallis to Waldport.

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Article via Featured Photo: The Hayden Covered Bridge, by Sandy Horvath-Dori (CC BY 2.0). Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happening by signing up for our email newsletter.

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