Notable Oregonians: Conde McCullough - Bridge Engineer

photograph of Mr. McCullough in balck suit with speckled tie
Conde McCullough, 1887-1946. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)
Conde B. McCullough was born in Dakota Territory in 1887. He was raised and educated in Iowa, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in civil engineering from Iowa State College. McCullough came to Oregon in 1916 to teach structural engineering at the Oregon Agricultural College (known today as OSU). He moved to Salem in 1919 to become State Bridge Engineer. McCullough headed the Oregon State Highway Department’s bridge design and construction program for eighteen years.
Travelers along the Oregon Coast Highway will cross several striking bridges over rivers, bays, and inlets. Most impressive is the mile-long span at Coos Bay, a graceful concrete and steel structure of rhythmic beauty that flows across the open water. This bridge and others along Oregon’s “blue highways,” are McCullough’s legacy. During his years with the OSHD, McCullough became one of the leading bridge engineers in the United States. His work in Oregon—hundreds of structures including over 30 arched spans—was part of the state’s nationally recognized highway system at a time when the automobile first claimed its place in the life and character of America.
The pinnacle of McCullough’s career in Oregon was completion of five major bridges along the Oregon Coast Highway in 1936—the Yaquina Bay Bridge at Newport, the Alsea Bay Bridge at Waldport, the Siuslaw River Bridge at Florence, the Umpqua River Bridge at Reedsport, and the Coos Bay Bridge at Marshfield/North Bend. He was an impassioned promoter of state-sponsored bridge building that incorporated engineering efficiency with economic practicality and aesthetic appeal. Many of McCullough’s bridges are rich in architectural detail; the finest among them are embellished with classical, Gothic, and Art Deco/Moderne elements. He died from a stroke in 1946, just weeks short of his 59th birthday. Because of his work in Oregon, McCullough is recognized as a bridge engineer of national and international importance.

Photographs and Drawings

Yaquina Bay Bridge (Highway Division Records, Tourism Photographs, #141)
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)
(Sources: Robert Hadlow, Oregon Department of Transportation | Oregon State University School of Civil & Construction Engineering | History and Heritage of Civil Engineering)

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