A Covered Bridge in Wahkiakum County

Gray's River Covered Bridge
Gray’s River Covered Bridge

An explanation

How did I find this covered bridge in western Wahkiakum County? Before the first weekend in September, 2016, I had never been to Wahkiakum County. I’m not sure if I could even pronounce the name of the county or its seat, Cathlamet. Here’s how I ended up there.

I’m not proud of the fact that on Labor Day Weekend, 2016, I got so angry at a houseguest, that I took off with the excuse that I had legal work I needed to take care of in northern California.  (I did, indeed have paperwork to complete, but it could have been done by mail.)  Along the way, I spent a couple of days driving Washington Highway 14, the road that runs along the Columbia River on the Washington side, taking lots of photographs for possible inclusion in my coffee table book Evergreen:  A Photographic Portrait of Washington’s Thirty-Nine Counties. 

I spent my first night on the road at the charming Cathlamet Hotel in the Wahkiakum County Seat.  Wahkiakum is the smallest county by total area in Washington State.  It lies on the north bank of the Columbia, northwest of Portland, Oregon.  I was able to get some decent dusk photographs around the city itself, but the next morning, the sun and I were both up before the hotel served breakfast. 

Sales Pitch

The photograph is available from my Etsy Shop, LightIntoArt, in a wide variety of sizes and formats.  Choose glossy photo paper prints in three sizes:  8×10, 11×14, 16×20.  Or if you prefer something larger, choose canvas prints in 16×20, 24×36, or 30×40 inches.  Finally, for a spectacular display, you can get this image in 3 panel side-by-side canvas prints at 24 x 72, 36 x 72, or 40 x 90 inches.  The video below gives you an idea of what these sizes are like in a living room, bed room or office setting.

Driving Around Wahkiakum County

A photographer never wastes sunlight, and I grabbed my gear, jumped in the car and headed across the Juliet Butler Hansen bridge to Puget Island, a seven mile long island in the Columbia.  Having driven the various back roads around the island, I returned to my hotel, ate breakfast, and packed the car.  Driving west on Washington Highway 4, I stopped several times to photograph buildings and landscapes I found fascinating.  Wahkiakum County is not on any major highways, and this was my first time visiting the county.  In the western portion of the county, I saw a sign for the Gray’s River Covered Bridge.  Sounded like a photo op to me, and I had no trouble convincing myself to get off the main road and take a few back country roads to the bridge.

About the Bridge

Built in 1905, the bridge is 158 feet long and 14 feet wide.  It has a weight limit of 4 tons.  According to the sign at the bridge, it is the last covered bridge still in use in Washington State.  Noting that my car was neither too wide nor too heavy for the bridge, I drove across it, twice. I wanted to get as many views of the bridge as I could.  I’m not sure who uses the bridge on a regular basis, but while I was parked, two other car loads of tourists crossed the bridge to take photos.


It was only after I returned home and started processing my photos, that I noticed the camera settings were not what they should have been.  I guess that was a teaching moment.  Never get so angry that you lose sight of your objectives. The video below shows a brief glimpse of some of the over 100 photographs I took in Wahkiakum County, all with my camera on the wrong settings.