Once part of the Northern Pacific Railway line extending to South Bend, the Newaukum River Bridge on the present-day Willapa Hills Trail is the oldest known bridge still in use in Lewis County.
Just beyond the Chehalis trailhead at the end of Hillburger Road, the bridge greets those using the trail nearly immediately as the iron structure carries trail traffic over the Newaukum River just before the river’s confluence with the Chehalis River.
What once carried trains is now only open to non-motorized trail traffic. The former Northern Pacific Railway line ended its passenger service in the mid-1950s, and the track was vacated in the coming decades. Washington State Parks purchased the former line and converted it into a trail that has become very popular with cyclists, runners, walkers and horseback riders.
This bridge was built in 1896 by the Pencoyd Iron Works of Pennsylvania. A plaque on the south end of the bridge, heavily rusted, shows the date of construction.
Though not on a historic register, this structure is recognized as a critical component of the early transportation infrastructure of Lewis County. Today, it carries one of Washington state’s most scenic trail corridors across a peaceful stretch of river.