A colorful story on display

COTTAGE GROVE — Located on River Road where Madison Avenue intersects near Prospector Park area leaders last week dedicated a new history kiosk at the J. Polk Currin Swinging Bridge, honoring the legacy of Slabtown and the creator of the first of five pedestrian footbridges that served the community. The Rotary Club, Partners in History, Friends of the Swinging Bridge, neighbors, Mayor Jeff Gowing and wife Celia, Researcher and Graphics Designer Alice Christianson gathered to unveil the display, which tells the story of James Knox Polk Currin.  Currin arrived in the mid-1860s. Over the years, he served the community as a surveyor, postmaster, educator and pioneer druggist. He also built the first footbridge in the area – a wooden trestle bridge  — and problems maintaining it led to the first suspension or “swinging” bridge in 1917.  Currin established the first drug store and it had two locations, both of which were in the old business district that ranged along River Road and West Main Street.  Known colloquially as “Slabtown,” this was the first Cottage Grove. Tensions between the east and west sides of town led to the famous feud and a brief time of separate town governments, Lemati and Cottage Grove. The arrival of the railroad tipped the scales and slowly the business district migrated almost completely to what is now known as the Historic District.  From left: Debra Monsive of the Cottage Grove Genealogical Society; River Molyneaux, Dana Merryday; Alan Schwake; Joe Raade; Alice Christianson, researcher and graphic designer who did the panels; Karen Munsell;  Karol Kuhn; Ruth Linoz; Gary Manly and Peggy Whalen, Rotary Club co-presidents; Karen Rainsong; Nola Nelson; Mayor Jeff Gowing; Ralph Zeller; Chandra La Husen; Catherine Burke; Chris Ciullo; and Maya, the wonder dog.



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