A piece of the old Sellwood Bridge's concrete railing was unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony in front of SMILE Station, S.E. 13th at Tenino Street, on Saturday afternoon, February 4.
Some forty people huddled under a canopy set up to shield participants from rain, as project coordinator Rachel Ginocchio of Rumpus Events began the observance. "This project started off as an idea, and ended up as a big project, resulting in a great fundraising effort for Sellwood Middle School (SMS), and a permanent memorial here at the SMILE Station."
She recounted how she negotiated with Slayden/Sundt Joint Venture to get pieces of the demolished old bridge. With the permission of Multnomah County and the contractor, Ginocchio's husband and a friend went down with a diamond-tipped bladed saw and cut off a 1,400 pound segment of concrete railing, which then was delivered by forklift to their own front lawn.
She thanked Cindy Wallace, Flo Posadas, and the staff of Blue Kangaroo for being the retail outlet for bridge mementos. Ginocchio also lauded the team of "railing wranglers" – Don Bolton, Matt Hainley, and Bruce and Kris Heiberg – who later moved the artifact over to, and mounted it at, SMILE Station.
Pat Wojciechowski of Oaks Bottom Forge said they were proud to create "useful works of art" such as coat hooks, fire pokers, and bottle openers from the old bridge's discarded rebar. "We made about 300 items to help raise money for SMS, and if laid end-to-end it all would stretch about two and a half football fields in length."
As the rain showers intensified, the program was shortened; Matt Hainley cut the ceremonial ribbon, and the bridge relic was officially unveiled.
With everyone inside the neighborhood-associaiton-owned building, Governor Barbara Roberts addressed the group. "In the last couple of years, we've had so many ceremonies in this neighborhood and in this community, but today is really unique," she said. "Today, we're celebrating the saving of a piece of this historic neighborhood's past."
The formal program ended with SMS students presenting a "big fat check" to representatives of their school's Parent Teacher Association and Foundation in the total amount of $7,837.35 – proceeds from the memento sales, and a fundraiser connected with the bridge railing project.
Next time you're at SMILE Station, look at this piece of history, admire the plaque of contributors – but please don't climb on this nearly century-old relic!