In the past, covered bridges were common in America; it is estimated that over 12,000 of them were built between 1825 and 1875. For a very crucial reason, the majority were crimson and “covered” to shield the wooden bridge structure from snow and rain.
Of course, a covered bridge had numerous purposes than its obvious one. It provided cover from storms for weary travellers. Alternatively, it could serve as a venue for gatherings, demonstrations, or even picnics. Some claim that the sight of the water below these spans kept horses from being alarmed.
Whatever benefits covered bridges offered, there’s no denying that they outlasted wooden ones without a roof by a significant margin. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that covered wooden bridges have been known to last a century or longer, but exposed wooden bridges typically only lasted 20 years. The Hyde Hall Covered Bridge at Otsego Lake, New York, is the oldest covered bridge in the country and evidence of its sturdiness! It was constructed in 1825 and is still firmly in place.
Although there are still over 750 of these ancient buildings in the United States, Pennsylvania is the state with the greatest concentration—nearly 200 of them!
These are a handful of the most picturesque and rustic covered bridges in that state.
Barronvale Covered Bridge, Somerset County
At 162 feet, the Barronvale Bridge, built in 1830, is among the state’s longest covered bridges. Situated in the southwest region of Somerset County, the town of New Centerville is easily accessible from there.
When you get to this bridge, you can still cross it, but only on foot.
Sachs Covered Bridge, Gettysburg
Because it was used so often during the Civil War, it was named Pennsylvania’s most historic bridge in 1938. During the Gettysburg Battle in 1863, both Union and Confederate forces were moved across Sachs Bridge. This exquisite building has been meticulously conserved to seem as sturdy as the day it was constructed in 1852. Additionally, several tourists have claimed seeing ghosts on and around the bridge, suggesting that it may be haunted.
Banks Covered Bridge, New Wilmington
The sound of horses hauling Amish buggies across the Banks Covered Bridge still reverberates through the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. This 121-foot-long span was constructed in 1889 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This bridge is passable by car, although it can only accommodate one car or buggy at a time.
Packsaddle Covered Bridge, Fairhope
The Packsaddle Covered Bridge, which over the Brush Creek cascade, is arguably the most picturesque covered bridge in the state. There’s a breathtaking view of the falls running beneath it in every season. It’s a year-round picture opportunity worth marking on your calendar, regardless of whether the water is trickling, surging from excessive rain, or frozen in the winter.
The Packsaddle Bridge is only 48 feet long and was constructed in 1870.
Bartram’s Covered Bridge, Newtown Square
Built in 1860 for a whooping $1,133, Bartram’s is the last example of its kind in Delaware County. The bridge, measuring 80 feet in length and 13 feet in width, was intended to be as “hi (sic) and wide as a load of hay.” Despite several years of costly renovations, the bridge has not been open to the public since 1941.
But graffiti existed even in the 1860s. Even after the bridge’s most recent significant refurbishment in 1995, the words “LINCOLN, save the Union and Congress” could still be seen painted inside.
Adairs Covered Bridge, Perry County
The 150-foot-long Adairs Bridge was reconstructed in 1919 after it was initially erected in 1864. In the community of Kistler, it crosses Sherman’s Creek, which is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Sherman’s Creek is also crossed by the covered bridges at Enslow (also known as Turkey Tail), Rice, and Dellville. In 2014, a fire destroyed the Dellville bridge, which was first built in 1889. A few years later, a duplicate was constructed.
Pinetown Covered Bridge, Bird in Hand
Built in 1867, the 124-foot-long and 15-foot-wide Pinetown Covered Bridge successfully weathered many storms for more than a century. However, Agnes, a hurricane, destroyed it in 1972. The residents petitioned for its repair because it is located in the heart of Amish country. Despite being constructed above the high-water line to save further damage, the newly constructed Pinetown bridge was forced to close once more in 2011 when Tropical Storm Lee uprooted it from its base. It currently rises two feet higher after undergoing a second restoration.
Zook’s Mill Covered Bridge, Leola
The 74-foot-long Zook’s Mill Covered Bridge in Lancaster County was built by Henry Zook in 1849, and despite filling with nearly seven feet of water, it survived Hurricane Agnes’ devastation. The county-owned bridge that spans Cocalico Creek has also gone by a number of names, including Cocalico #7 Bridge and Rose Hill Covered Bridge.