Covered bridges are slowly disappearing and experts agree that at lest ten are demolished or destroyed by floods every year. In Santa Cruz County, where the most number of covered bridges still stand, it has become part of the landscape and great efforts are being taken to preserve them.
Though the exact number is actually just three (3), they are stilled considered very important because they all date back to the 1800s. According to records, at one time there were more than a thousand covered bridges all over the western states of the US, and now, because of rapid commercialization and development of new construction materials, covered bridges are slowly disappearing.
The three remaining in Santa Cruz have gained considerable popularity and historical significance and therefore cannot be easily discarded. They have come under the protection of the law and are considered to be historical places fit for preservation. The efforts of the counties to preserve covered bridges for future generations to enjoy are starting to pay off as more and more are being added to the registry of historic places every year. To maintain its historical integrity, renovation and refurbishment projects are done using the same materials and techniques employed during the time they were built.
Covered bridges still have very practical purposes these days. The walls and roofs on them can still provide protection from extreme weather conditions during winters and summers. Back in the early years of covered bridges, they are usually used for a lot of reasons; from sheltering weary travelers stuck because of bad weather, to looking like barns to make the crossing livestock more comfortable. These days the same roofs and walls serve a more aesthetic purpose, basically to add more personality to covered bridges and make it seem more romantic.
In the past ten years, most of the covered bridges in America were moved to private estates and gardens where they used to create a more romantic feel, bigger ones though are left where they stand since there are moves to block the relocation of the more historic ones. Covered bridges in private properties and colleges ironically have more chances in surviving because of the protection the local security provides. Old ones in more rural wares are more susceptible to vandalism and arson. Though protected by the government, some historic covered bridges are located so far from the towns that watching over them is really difficult.
Covered bridges also represent the rustic charm of small-town America. It triggers within most people a romantic picture filled with sentimentality. There was even a time when they were called “kissing bridges” because it was a place where secret lovers could meet to steal kisses from each other.
They are also being used for inspiration by photographers to take the effort in locating them all over America. Covered bridges also look really good when photograph during autumn. The colored leaves and the wooden bridge are so reminiscent of the covers of love story books back in the 80’s. They are truly special relics of early America that should be preserved and maintained for the rich history they represent.
Thanks to the awareness brought about by hobbyist and historic preservationist, people are now more aware of the beauty that these bridges posses. They remind America of a time when life was simple and progress took on a slow but steady pace. They are also symbols of the ingenuity of the American carpenters and engineers who first thought of covering bridges to extend its lifespan. They are truly a part of American history and should be preserved for America’s future generations to enjoy.