Take Time for Covered Bridges

As fall approaches, your list of interesting outdoor activities wouldn’t be complete without taking time to tour Linn County’s picturesque covered bridges.

The quaint structures – Linn has eight of them – evoke a simpler time when life moved a little slower and when builders put roofs over their bridges to protect the massive timbers from Oregon’s rainy climate. Carefully maintained, most are still open to both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. 

Take the day and bike or drive your way to some of these beautiful structures along quiet country roads. Five of the bridges are clustered not far from Albany around the town of Scio and marked by signs on a 30-mile loop that takes about 2 and a half hours if you are driving. Included on that tour are the Hoffman Bridge, Gilkey Bridge, Shimanek Bridge, Hannah Bridge and Larwood Bridge. After touring the bridges, take time to head into Scio and have a delicious lunch at the Covered Bridge Coffee House Restaurant (or do takeout and picnic at your favorite bridge). Head back to Albany or take the rest of the day and add the other three Linn County bridges: Weddle Bridge in Sweet Home, Short Bridge near Cascadia, and the Crawfordsville Bridge.

On your tour, take note of Shimanek Bridge, the only one in the area painted red rather than the traditional white. And, if you plan ahead and get some takeout from one of Albany’s great eateries, spend the day at the Larwood Wayside picnic area where the Larwood Bridge spans Crabtree Creek next to an old water wheel that once provided electricity to rural residents. Take your fishing poles and try your luck for trout as well. The creek is regularly stocked.

The Larwood Bridge is at the confluence of Roaring River and Crabtree Creek, which also has the quirky reputation of being the only place in the world, according to “Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” where a river flows into a creek. 

If you want to discover the bridges for yourself, click here to view a list of Linn County’s Covered Bridge Country. For a map and a little history, click here for a copy of Seems Like Old Times and turn to Page 20, or download the Explore Albany app to get the same information on your phone. And read a description of touring Linn County Covered Bridges from Travel Oregon

Early pioneers built the first covered bridges in Oregon, which later gave way to better-designed structures beginning in the early 20th Century. Due to a lack of steel during the world wars, and the abundance of Douglas fir, construction of these treasures continued well into the 1950s. Covering the bridges, while a beautiful addition to any span, had a practical application of keeping the wooden trusses dry. A covered bridge can last up to 80 years, while uncovered wooden bridges had about a nine-year lifespan.

As you tour the bridges notice the diagonal bracing and counter bracing of the beams in a crisscross pattern, both on the sides of the bridge and overhead under the roof. This is the Howe truss design, developed in 1840 by William Howe, which helps make the bridges stronger and last longer. 

At one time there were about 450 covered bridges in Oregon. Today, just over 50 remain.

Come explore our great outdoors

Getting outdoors with your family is a great way to stay local and stay safe, and Albany has a lot of areas to explore: Sneak up on sun-basking turtles at Talking Water Gardens, spend an afternoon fishing at one of our area lakes, or just bike or hike over miles of trails the city has to offer.

Here are a few suggestions to get you safely out and about for a day of hiking, biking, fishing and birdwatching:

Hiking and Biking

Photo of cyclists in front of the Linn County Courthouse in Albany ORIf you just want to hit the trails, Albany has miles of them, and chances are there’s one near your neighborhood. Check out the list at the City of Albany’s website and download the trail map and plan.

Two of the most scenic trails follow the Willamette River: The Dave Clark Trail on the eastern bank and Takena Landing Trail on the west, both running about 3 miles round trip.

If you want to add a little length to the Dave Clark Trail, exit Monteith Riverpark at the west end, travel up Calapooia Street to Third Avenue, then head down into Bryant Park, where you loop around near the confluence of the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers. A nice diversion on a sunny day.

Talking Water Gardens

Photo of Talking Water Garden and DuckHead east on Front Street past the Albany/Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility and you will find this gem. Created for cooling treated wastewater before it is discharged into the Willamette River, this 50-acre manufactured wetland is home to more than 200 species of birds and several species of amphibians, mammals and native plants. Some critters can be seen all day long but start your day early and maybe catch a glimpse of a mink or marten, turtles and other creatures as you hike the 2 miles of path around the area. Bring your bird identification book and see how many birds you can identify in an hour. If you brought a lunch, take a break and sit by one of the many refreshing waterfalls built into the area to help cool the water.

If you have time, head into adjacent Simpson Park with its 168 woody acres that include miles of trails and a lake you can fish for crappie, bass and bluegill.

Waverly Lake, Timber-Linn Lake, Freeway Lakes

Photo of sunset over Waverly Lake in Albany OregonIf you want to continue fishing, head over to nearby Waverly Lake, a former rock pit that now forms an oasis at the entrance to Albany’s eastern gate. This 5-acre lake — home to Waverly Duck, a giant decoy that greets visitors every summer — is stocked every year with trout, including some rather large brood trout, a few tipping the scales at over 10 pounds. The lake is ringed by a path that makes it very accessible.

Waverly Lake is one of three Albany-area lakes stocked yearly by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Timber-Linn Lake at Timber-Linn Park is 11 acres and very accessible, making it a perfect spot for a day out with the family. Best access is to take Price Road from Highway 20.

Freeway Lakes is three small lakes along Interstate 5 south of Albany. They are accessible by Three Lakes Road, which runs along the east side of I-5. The lakes are stocked with trout early in the season but are also home to warmwater species, including crappie and bluegill.

Fishing licenses are required for any person 14 years of age or older and can be purchased at most sporting goods stores in the area.

Outside Albany

Photo of McDowell Creek Park If you are planning a day outside of Albany in the Willamette National Forest and other areas, be sure to “know before you go” and start by checking these websites to make sure what areas are open and what to expect when you get there. Many sites are only partially open, and some do not have restrooms or waste collection.


What is open and closed: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/home/?cid=FSEPRD712877

Oregon State Parks by status: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_parkstatus

Limited day-use open at some State Parks/Covid FAQ: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=272

Some State Parks offer limited day-use access: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_featureArticle&articleId=279

Image credits on this page: Heron feature image, by Dina Ratzliff; Female mallard duck at Talking Waters Garden by Kimberly Silva; Waverly Lake Sunset by David Maestes; Cyclists at the Linn County Courthouse by Cathy Webb; McDowell Creek Park by Phillip Marks.

2020 Albany Summer Explorer Program for Kids

Summer Passport logo image

Congratulations 2020 Passport Winners!

We're live with Albany Visitors Association to announce this year's winners Albany Passport! Lots of fun prizes to give away this morning!

Posted by The Historic Carousel & Museum, Albany, OR on Thursday, August 27, 2020

We are looking forward to seeing you again next year!

Explorers, are you ready?

It’s time again to head out into the wilds of Albany for the 2020 Albany Summer Explorer/Passport Program, beginning Monday, July 6.

The program is free and offered through a partnership with the Albany Visitors Association (AVA), City of Albany, Albany Regional Museum, Albany Downtown Association and the Monteith Historical Society.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we will be taking a new physically distanced approach to the old program. All of our Explorer/Passport sponsors are following state and federal guidelines about re-opening businesses, parks and keeping children safe.

With that in mind, some changes have been made. In past years, the program started at the beginning of summer with a kick-off party and concluded at the end of August with a party to draw for the grand prizes. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, those parties will not take place. And passports will not be handed out at the Albany Visitors Association. Instead, kids can download and print a form to create their own passport (more on that later). And they will not be asked to enter businesses in order to retrieve information or have their passports stamped.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of adventure and weekly treasure to be had. Here’s how it will work:

The Passport: Kids can download and print a passport form here: 2020 Passport. Summer Passport logo imageFollow the directions to create and color the passport (this is part of the first-week challenge: more on that later!), then email the AVA at info@albanyvisitors.com to register: please include each child’s first and last name, age, and an emergency contact phone #. If you don’t have a way to print a passport, one can be picked up at the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum. Then, let the adventure begin!

The Hunt: Participating businesses and locations will each display a poster with a picture of a carousel animal. In the passport, find the corresponding location and write down the name of the animal. There are 28 locations and they do not have to be done in order. Take your time and have fun! When finished, drop off your passport on or before August 25 in the drop slot at the AVA office, 110 3rd Ave. SE in downtown Albany. Include your address if you would like your passport returned.

The Challenges and Prizes: Watch the Albany Passport Program Facebook page and/or emails for weekly challenges to win prizes, donated by the participating businesses, all summer long. The first challenge is to post a photo of your completed passport on the Facebook page by Tuesday, July 14th, 5 p.m. At the end of the summer, participants’ names will also be entered into a drawing for more fabulous prizes. Passport holders do not have to visit every location to be entered in the final drawing. Good luck!

The Partners: Businesses and locations who graciously have donated their time and prizes are: Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Albany Downtown Association, Albany Historic Carousel & Museum, Albany Regional Museum, AVA, The Frame House, ATA Martial Arts, BJ’s Ice Cream, Brick Circuit, Bricks & Joysticks, Brigitte’s Place Fine Fabrics, Gallery Calapooia, Infinite Air Center, Lake Shore Lanes, Margin Coffee, Mid-Willamette Family YMCA, Midway Farms, Monteith House Museum, Natural Sprinkles, Pix Theater, Shortstops, Southpaw’s, Spearit Beads, Talking Water Gardens/City of Albany, Downtown Carnegie Library, Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site, Urban Ag Supply and Wicked Comics.

The program is geared toward elementary-aged children, but their siblings, parents and grandparents are welcome to come along.

See the AVA website for regular updates and more information visit  2020 Passport  Facebook. You can also email info@albanyvisitors.com or call 541-928-0911.

The Challenge #2 winners are Brooklyn Bodkin and August DeBolt. They will both receive a cool Talking Water Gardens beverage bottle.  Big thanks to Talking Water Gardens/City of Albany for supporting the 2020 Albany Passport Program!

The Challenge # 1 winners are Presley Gibson and Cohen Salvatierra. Congratulations! They both will receive a Gift Card to Wicked Comics & Collectibles. Get all the details in the Passport Newsletter / Email.  Thanks very much, Wicked Comics, for supporting the 2020 Albany Passport Program!

Summer Historic Home Tour

Photo of a historic home porch looking out to antique trolley and American flag during the Albany Sumer Historic Home Tour

Note: For winners of the Scavenger Hunt, scroll down to the contest form download portion of this blog.

The 2020 Summer Historic Home Tour will look a lot different this year in order to respect the Covid-19 guidelines. To start with: no interiors. But those interested in our beautiful homes and historic buildings can still take a self-guided exterior tour on Saturday, July 25 (with a virtual peek inside a few of them!) and take part in a contest for prizes, including free tickets to the 2020 Christmas Parlour Tour. This 2020 Summer tour is free but if you would like to make a donation to help maintain the Monteith House Museum, please see the donation options at the bottom of this page.

The details

This year, rather than allow visitors physically inside five or six homes, the tour will consist of a self-guided event that will feature a walk-by of eight homes with the help of a map, the publication Seems Like Old Times and/or the use of our app, Explore Albany, which is sponsored by the Albany Visitors Association.

In addition, while taking the tour visitors can be on the lookout for architectural details that will be included in a scavenger hunt. Find the required items, such as beautiful woodwork detail or an interesting door, and mark it on the ballot. Return the completed ballot and place it in the mail slot at the AVA office, 110 3rd Ave. SE, at the end of the day and be entered in a drawing for prizes, including tickets to the Christmas Parlour Tour on Sunday, Dec. 13. Five pairs of tickets will be given away.

We ask that all visitors observe all social distancing guidelines, including the wearing of masks where 6-foot separation is not possible.

The date and hours

Photo of historic home.Here’s how it will work. The tour is still scheduled for Saturday, July 25, 2020, and will run 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can download a map and scavenger hunt ballot from the AVA website the day of the event, or pick them up outside the front door of the AVA or Monteith House along with a copy of Seems Like Old Times, which provides guided tours, details about the homes and some fun and interesting information about Albany and its historic districts.

*Image of Ralston House by Stephanie Low.

For those of you who are tech savvy, download the Albany Explorer app at Apple Store for iPhone or iPad or Google Play for Android. It includes maps to three of Albany’s historic districts, where to dine, spend the night and other details about Albany and the surrounding area. And since visitors won’t be allowed inside the houses, a few homeowners have graciously agreed to let us to create short video tours of the inside of their homes for people to enjoy. They will be available the day of the tour on this page,

In addition, a few homeowners have agreed to allow visitors into their yards to take in their beautiful landscaping. When visiting these yards, please observe social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering over your nose and mouth.

If all of that exploring works up an appetite, take the time to enjoy a take-out lunch from one of the many fine restaurants Albany has to offer. Click here for dining details, inside or curbside.

Download Scavenger Hunt here(PDF)

Scavenger Hunt Winners: Part of the 2020 Summer Tour was a scavenger hunt. A Grand Prize gift basket and five pairs of tickets to the 2020 Christmas Parlour Tour were given away. The contest concluded July 31. Here are the winners: Grand prize Gift Basket: Dianne Bass. Christmas Parlour Tour tickets: Nancy Messman, Sue Roberts, Roxanne Winston, Cindy Fellows and Gail Gerdemann.

Image of Scavenger Hunt questions




Saturday, July 25 – Link to Home Photo Gallery here

2020 Historic Homes Tour Photo Gallery

See a few photos of the Keyhole House, which will be available the day of the tour.

See the inside of two homes on this year’s tour and a poster

Two homeowners have made videos showing off the interior of their homes. Click the Montanye House and the Rohrbough/Callister House to see them. Also take a look at a poster full of information about the Montanye House. MontayneHouseTourPoster (1)

Help preserve the tour and Monteith House Museum for the future:

The tour and scavenger hunt contest are all free of charge. Normally, tour tickets cost $15 each, with the money going to the restoration and upkeep of the Monteith House. Donations, though not required, will be greatly appreciated since Monteith House income has been seriously diminished due to the Covid shutdown.

Contact-free donations can be made with your credit or debit card using our online payment option here:
( Please note: you don’t have to have your own Paypal account to use this)

Enter the dollar amount you wish to donate:


if you prefer, checks can be made payable to the “Monteith Historical Society” and mailed to the AVA, PO Box 965, Albany, Oregon 97321, or other donation arrangements can be made by emailing us.

While this won’t be a traditional homes tour, we hope all who have enjoyed the event in the past will come and spend a lovely and safe afternoon with us in Albany’s beautiful neighborhoods. Thank you to our gracious homeowners who are willing to share their homes today and to all of you who have come to enjoy them.


2020 Historic Homes Tour Photo Gallery

Homes on tour

Photo Gallery

Paddle away on Waverly Lake

What better way to practice social distancing than to spend a sunny afternoon on the water?

Catch some rays, get a little exercise and get up close and personal with a giant duck as you leisurely cruise around Albany’s Waverly Lake in paddle boats during these summer months.

Photo of large painted duck on Waverly Lake, Albany, OR.The boats run Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until Sept. 6. Cost is $5 per half hour and each of the boats can hold up to four people. Six paddleboats are The paddle boats offer a quiet diversion on the five-acre lake, a former rock pit, that offers fishing, walking paths, picnicking areas and an oversized Wood Duck decoy, which has greeted visitors to Albany for several years and has become the city’s unofficial mascot.

The duck, made by a spray-foam company just north of Albany, greeted visitors to Albany in the 1980s until it was pulled from the lake in 2007 in severe disrepair. A fundraising effort helped resurrect the faux waterfowl, and with the help of volunteers and the work of Main Auto Body, the Waverly Duck was repaired repainted and relaunched in the summer of 2017.

So, get on a paddle boat and get close, but please don’t touch and help keep Albany’s iconic bird floating for years to come.

Beyond the duck and paddle boats, Waverly Lake serves as a great little fishing hole, too. Bring the fishing poles and try your luck for some of the trout planted each spring and early summer by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, including some brood trout that tip the scales at over 10 pounds.

Waverly Lake is one of three Albany-area lakes stocked yearly by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Fishing licenses are required for any person 14 years of age or older and can be purchased at most sporting goods stores in the area.

For more information and a weekly fishing report, call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife: 1-541-757-4186.

Ringed by an accessible walking and biking path, Waverly Lake may be enjoyed by landlubbers as well who are looking to get out and about on a warm summer day.

Fun in the Park ‘To Go’

Photo of child riding toy car with event information.Summer isn’t canceled … it just looks a little different. So, if you’re looking for that little something different for the kids to do, motor over to the Fun in the Park “To Go” program run by by the City of Albany Parks & Recreation Department.

This is the 15th year for the program. In past Fun in the Park events, families would gather in Albany parks to find picnic tables full of crafting supplies and Parks & Rec staff on hand to organize games and other activities. But because of Covid-19 restrictions on the number of participants allowed to safely gather, Parks & Rec had to come up with another approach: A drive-thru event.

The idea is simple: Parents take a lap through the loop in Bryant Park to pick up that week’s cool activity kit for kids — handed out by Parks & Rec employees wearing masks — to enjoy at their favorite park or at home. The crafting kits are for kids ages 2 to 12.

The free event is planned through the next six Wednesday’s until Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to noon. Parents are asked to register on the Parks & Rec website by the Monday prior to each week’s event so staff can get an accurate count of how many kits will be needed to be assembled. Kids can also put on their investigator’s cap and play an “I Spy” game. Upon entering the park, they will be given a page with different items on it that they can hunt for as they cruise around.

The first events were held July 8 and July 15, and so far hundreds of kids have participated, so make sure to reserve your spot and register today! Dates left are July 22 and 29, and August 5, 12 and 19.

Sponsors for the program include Coastal, Kona Ice, Kristi Crawford Photography, Oregon Freeze Dry, Xtreme Grafx, Oregon AFSCME, Home Depot, Les Schwab, Linn-Co Federal Credit Union and Red Canoe Credit Union.

Responsible Reopening

Businesses have started to reopen in Albany and around Oregon, but leisure travel remains discouraged for now. Stay safe by staying local. 

Logo for Responsible ReopeningWhat can you expect when you do decide to go shopping? Some people are hesitant to get out and about in light of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But a few Albany-area businesses are hoping their participation in a new program will help take some of that trepidation away.

We’re proud to join our industry partners in committing to a safer Willamette Valley by taking part in the all-new Responsible Reopening program, sponsored by the Willamette Valley Visitors Association. In order to elevate a valley-wide message of unity, care and excellence we hope others will join our fellow businesses and pledge to implement these self-regulated Willamette Valley Community Commitments, in addition to mandated state requirements, for the health and safety of locals and visitors alike.

To sign up go to WillametteValley.org. For more information, call the Albany Visitors Association at 541-928-0911, or email our office.

So far, more than a dozen area businesses and organizations are participating and have pledged to enact a 10-point safety checklist designed to create the safest possible environment.

How will you know? Participating businesses are displaying decals and other signage bearing the Responsible Reopening logo to feature those safety standards (as seen here with this blog). As an example, upon entering Sybaris Bistro you notice the spacious layout has changed to offer patrons the safest dining experience possible while keeping the same quality service and atmosphere Sybaris fans have come to enjoy. The restaurant also offers limited seating outside.

To date, here are Albany-area businesses taking part in the program who are making sure their patrons and staff are safe: Springhill Cellars WineryUrban Ag SupplyComfort Suites AlbanyAlbany Visitors Association, St. Innocent Winery in Jefferson, Phoenix InnSybarisCalapooia Brewing CompanyDeluxe Brewing & Sinister Distilling, Frankie’sPhoenix Inn Suites, Bryant Family Farm, Gallery Calapooia, Iron Water Ranch and Albany Historic Carousel & Museum.

So, when you get the urge to shop or get a meal out, take time to look for the Reopen Responsibly signs in and around Albany.

First Friday bursting into June

First Friday has become a tradition in Albany and our downtown shops, restaurants and attractions typically make the “First Friday” of each month a social night out on the town for food, shopping, art, music, drink and friendship.

Our business owners have been just as inventive responding to state health precautions. Virtual online parties and events blossomed during  COVID-19 restrictions and continue to be a way to connect with our community and support our local business owners.

One such event is coming right up on Friday, June 5th. Check it out below!

How does your garden grow?

Photo of a cute cat walking down a garden path with flowers and herbs on either side.

Summer is right around the corner and gardens throughout our community are starting to blossom and sprout. Urban Ag Supply in Downtown Historic Albany is encouraging first time gardeners or experienced pros to share their progress during the store’s Virtual First Friday event “Groovin’ with Growing Gardens” on June 5th.

Post photos of your seedlings, flower garden, hydroponic system, or anything related to growing outside. Show what you’ve harvested already or seeds you intend to plant soon.

The fun begins at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 5, and continues until 8 p.m. when a few modest prizes will be awarded for entries selected at random.

Get the details on how to participate on Urban Ag Supply’s Facebook event page.

More First Friday fun

The Historic Carousel & Museum, Albany, ORUrban Ag SupplyThe Natty Dresser, and Gallery Calapooia, among others, will have live Facebook events, games and prizes. Get your favorite take-out and have fun at home. See all the participants and hours on the First Fridays Downtown event page.

*Image credits: “Millie in the Herb Garden” and “Potting by the Valley Sky” by Maddie MacGregor, Albany, OR

Geocaching with Albany Visitors Association

Albany Challenge 2020

Image of geocachingBecause of precautions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 10th edition of the Albany Challenge  geocaching event is being planned for later in 2020. Once the health and safety of the geocaching and business participants can be assured, the event will be scheduled and details will be published on this page. Early plans call for a two-day challenge, a Saturday and Sunday, with coins to be given out, one coin for the Saturday event and a different coin for Sunday.