Warren Weathers served as Lowell’s mayor for nearly 20 years, and though he’s hung up his municipal duties, he hasn’t abandoned one very important job: “I have to go out and cut the Christmas tree for inside the bridge,” he says. Weathers grew up in Lowell, and though his early adult years flung him as far as Eastern Oregon and Alaska, when he came back to the area for graduate school, he stayed in Lowell to raise a family of his own. “We try to have fun in Lowell,” Weathers says, “and to celebrate every holiday.” And in this season, that means decorating a beloved old bridge with holiday lights and good cheer.
Built in 1945 on the footprint of the original built in 1906 — a bridge that traced a ferry crossing used by the area’s pioneers — the current Lowell covered bridge “represents the community,” Weathers notes. Travelers may zoom past the bridge to head back and forth along Highway 58, but its new restoration and interpretive center make the cozy structure well worth a stop. And at the holidays, the bridge holds something even more dear in this day and age: that small-town feeling.
“We decorated the bridge even before it was restored,” he says. “But we didn’t have an organized get-together then. We just put the lights up and turned them on.” Everything changed when, seven years ago, the town put together the funding for its restoration. Lowell’s iconic bridge looks the same as it did in ‘45, but now, with a new roof, deck and siding, it’s protected from the elements for coming generations. And that’s something to celebrate.
Decorating the bridge, and holding a ceremony to light it, has brought this little town closer together. “We cut some boughs, find some wide red ribbon and hang those on the bridge,” he says. “We sing carols. The grange serves Christmas cookies, hot cider and punch. There’s a tuba concert, and the high school music department performs.”
When asked if folks who aren’t from Lowell will enjoy the festivities, Weathers is emphatic, “Everyone is welcome. And they should come back the next day for our boat parade. We decorate boats and run ’em around the lake at night and people watch from the shore.”
Celebrate the season Lowell-style 7 pm Saturday, Dec. 7, at the covered bridge, and after dark Sunday, Dec. 8, along the shore of Dexter Reservoir. Lights go on every evening until Jan. 4.