It’s been seven months since Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges came out last April 1, and we’re closing in on 1,000 books sold. It’s a milestone and here’s the verdict so far.
I have a friend in California who is making his way through the book slowly and says it’s quite technical––not his usual cup of tea. But I know he’ll finish it mostly because I wrote it.
That’s the reason family and friends bought the book. Most of them have read it, and the comments are mostly positive. Of course, that’s expected with family and friends.
Without exception, they are impressed with the research involved and the thoroughness. And so are strangers that buy the book. Several have called, emailed, written, or stopped me in town to give me their comments regarding how impressed they are with the research and thoroughness. This has been a real surprise—totally unexpected.
I absolutely love the support of family and friends and the unexpected support of strangers. It really charges my batteries. But the positive reviews by bridge engineers and aficionados, McCullough researchers, and Oregon Coast highway historians have been especially meaningful to me. These are the experts that can quickly spot mistakes and shoddy work.
What I call fact checking is also known as peer review. By whatever name, I’m glad I took the time to run the whole manuscript by Dr. Robert Hadlow, the acknowledged expert on McCullough and author of Elegant Arches, Soaring Spans, C.B. McCullough, Oregon’s Master Bridge Builder; to run the chapters on the three other original bridges by Ray Bottenberg author of Bridges of the Oregon Coast; to run several technical explanations by the various experts at the Oregon Department of Transportation; and to run the stories of the old-timers by each one to make sure I didn’t misquote them. This inclination to check and double check came from 21 years of writing articles for Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines. Nothing ruins your credibility, like glaring mistakes in your writing.
I’d like to share a few positive comments from the experts:
Dr. Ronald Adams, Dean of the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, was a featured speaker at the Florence Rhododendron Days that had the theme “Spanning the Years: Celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of the Siuslaw River Bridge.” Dr. Adams kept telling me how impressed he was with the book and wrote this endorsement, “This is a remarkable account of not just the work of an engineer but of an artist who thoughtfully engaged his trade in a way that has had lasting impact on the daily lives of many people. Judy Fleagle and Richard Knox Smith convey Conde McCullough’s creations and their impact in a way that will capture the attention of general audiences as well as engineers curious about the history of bridge design and construction.”
Frank Nelson, the grand marshall of Florence’s grand floral parade during this year’s Rhody Days, headed the team that came up with the impressed current zinc cathodic protection when he was a bridge engineer with ODOT. This process first restores the concrete in the reinforced-concrete bridges and then coats the bridges with zinc before running a current continuously through them. This causes the salt air corrosion to be drawn away from the rebar to the sacrificial zinc, which means that every 25 years or so the concrete will have to be recoated. Cathodic protection will enable the bridges to be around for many more decades. Nelson told me that he particularly liked my book because it made difficult bridge related concepts easy to understand for layman. “I’m for anything that helps people become more knowledgeable about the bridges because then they will be more interested in seeing that the bridges are taken care of in the future.”
Robert S. Cortright, author of Bridges: Discovering the Beauty of Bridges, granted me permission to use a quote from his book at the beginning of my book. All he asked was a copy after it was published. I also quoted him in other parts of the book. When he received Crossings, unbeknownst to me, he started through it page by page with a pencil, purposefully looking for mistakes. He only found one, “I was very chagrined to see that the only mistake was from a quote of mine that I have since corrected [in a subsequent printing].” I had to chuckle. The quote was regarding the new Alsea Bay Bridge and called the steel arch a tied arch and it should have been referred to as a through arch. I will change it, too, in a subsequent printing.
Cortright travels the world photographing and writing about bridges. The result has been three of the most beautiful bridge books I’ve ever seen. In the process, he has become quite a bridge expert and a collector of bridge books. He was very impressed that he found no other mistakes in Crossings. I felt I had passed peer review!
One of my favorite comments was from non-bridge expert Jerry Ludeke, director of archives at Bakersfield College (a community college I attended many years ago), who requested a copy when she learned that I, a BC graduate, had written a book. After reading it, she said she thought Crossings was an excellent book. “The proof of the pudding,” she said, “is that I knew nothing about the Oregon Coast bridges or McCullough before reading the book, and I still thoroughly enjoyed it!”
As we reach the 1,000-book-sold milestone, we––including researcher Dick Smith and publisher Bob Serra––couldn’t be more pleased with the reception of Crossings.
Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at http://www.connectflorence.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; and in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society.
Judy’s PowerPoint Presentations:
November 5, Saturday, 2 p.m.––Visitor Center Theater, Cape Perpetua Visitor Center (south of Yachats)
November 12, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.––Visitor Center Theater, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport (just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge)
February 19, Sunday, 3 p.m.––Port Orford Library, Port Orford (1421 Oregon Street [Hwy 101])