Lamp-lit Dinner on Grays River Covered Bridge
The Willapa Hills have a bit of a magical out of time quality to them. My friend, Kathleen, laughs at me when I invoke Brigadoon, but there is a certain…something. One example of this is Grays River, smaller even than evenTinierTown, and just a few miles west of here.
Its major claim to
fame is the Grays River Covered Bridge, the last bridge of its kind in
Washington that is still in use. Built over 100 years ago to let farmers on the
south side of the river to get their products to the steamboats on the opposite
shore, the bridge is a visible reminder of the times when this county was
accessible only by boat.
Suitable for a starring role in the Bridges of Madison County, the Grays River bridge was rehabilitated in the 1980s - essentially rebuilt and refaced with original and additional local timber - and now looks much like it did when it was first built. Wood walls, wood floor and a tin roof of the type that was installed to help protect the original bridge from the inevitable decay that is the fate of wood in the fog valleys.
My friend, Robert Michael Pyle (an award-winning author acclaimed as one of America's leading nature writers), who lives in an old Victorian farmhouse (built by H. P. Ahlberg, who drove the original bridge project to completion) perched above the bridge has said "The bridge symbolizes Wahkiakum County... it joins people together and links the present to the past."
The bridge will be dressed up and on display this Saturday when for one night, Washington State's last covered bridge will be closed to vehicles and open for dinner.
A Lamp Lit Dinner will be served at the covered bridge at Grays River at 5 pm, just in time for the lovely wisps of ground fog that rise from the valley floor most evenings. Award winning chef Mark Bernetich is coming up from Portland to prepare a meal of salmon and chicken with blueberry buckle for dessert. Tickets are still available and are only $25.
The route to this historic bridge is marked on Hwy 4. A shuttle to the bridge will run continuously beginning at 3:45. Stops are Grays River Café and Merserve Park. Seating at 4:00, dinner at 5:00.
This dinner is part of Columbia River Country Days, a two day celebration of this little slice of the lower Columbia. Other events include a wine and chocolate tasting on Friday evening, farm tours and markets, and even a dance to vinyl records at the Grays River Grange after the dinner.