Graphic Art Drawings Bring Ideas To Life

Photo of Frank Hutchinson from neck up. He's wearing glasses and has a small mustache.
Frank G. Hutchinson photograph courtesy of Malcolm Hutchinson.
Some of Oregon's most noteworthy public works projects first saw life on the drawing tables of Frank G. Hutchinson and Harold L. Spooner. Other drawings by the men were destined to remain dreams. The works shown here represent a portion of the 110 drawings they produced from 1935 to 1957. Their subjects include landscapes and buildings but most often relate to transportation projects such as bridges, tunnels and highway interchanges. While modern public works projects are planned with computer-aided design and 3D computer modeling, the drawings of Hutchinson and Spooner rely on artistry and painstaking attention to detail.

Frank G. Hutchinson (1872-1973) studied at the Boston Drawing School from 1891 to 1893 before working as an architectural draftsman and teacher. He joined the Oregon Highway Department in 1935 and worked past his 80th birthday until his retirement in 1953. The Highway Commission paid tribute to Hutchinson's contributions in 1972 in celebration of his 100th birthday. His most noteworthy accomplishments were drawings of 5 major Oregon coastal bridges, 4 of which are represented here.
Harold Spooner in suit and tie shown from chest up. He looks about 60 years in this photo.
Harold L. Spooner photograph courtesy of Gregg Spooner.

Harold L. Spooner (1912-1979) studied at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon before joining the Highway Department in 1941. After a period of work in the Bridge Section, he became a landscape architect for the department. According to his wife, Spooner was a perfectionist: "He would work on a drawing until it was right, whether it took a day or a month." His dramatic 1950 drawing of Multnomah Falls (featured in the Columbia River Highway exhibit case) typifies his best work.

Oregon Coast Bridges: Spans to the Future

Hutchinson's renderings of coastal bridges employed considerable use of topographical features and foreground detail. A comparison of the Yaquina Bay Bridge drawing with a photograph from a similar perspective displays the accuracy of his work:

Drawing of Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Drawing of the 3,260-foot-long Yaquina Bay Bridge by Highway Department graphic artist Frank Hutchinson. Highway Division Records, Hutchinson and Spooner Drawings, #30. Enlarge drawing

Photo of Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Photo of Yaquina Bay Bridge. Highway Department engineer Conde McCullough designed the bridge, which opened in 1936. Highway Division Records, Tourism Photographs, #141. Enlarge photo


His drawings heralded the 1936 completion of the toll-free bridges that opened up 400 miles of unbroken highway along the Oregon coast. The new, more accessible coast road boosted tourism and commerce and took its place as one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Ferries, which regularly crossed the rivers or estuaries before the completion of the bridges, were soon a fading memory.

More Bridges by Hutchinson

Alsea Bay Bridge, Waldport (Highway Division Records, Hutchinson and Spooner Drawings, #28)
Coos Bay Bridge (Highway Division Records, Hutchinson and Spooner Drawings, #44)
Siuslaw River Bridge at Florence (Highway Division Records, Hutchinson and Spooner Drawings, #116)

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