Covered bridges have been an integral part in America’s history and growth. There are almost 200 of them still being used and maintained for their historical value. Since it first appeared in the early 19th century, these bridges have helped define the towns that built them by connecting village folks to services and infrastructures and directly connecting communities together.
Built for practical and functional reasons, covered bridges have become important pieces of history and are registered as such in the National Register of Historic Places. These days, modern bridges have been built using concrete and steel but old covered bridges still are considered to be more artistic and charming. The following are the most popular among old covered bridges that has maintained its rustic and historic charm.
1. The Bridge of Sighs
Built by Henry Hutchinson, this famous bridge belongs to Cambridge University and can be found in St John’s College. It was built in 1831 and connects the college’s Third Court with the New Court and crosses over the River Cam. This gained popularity because of the pranks played by some students by dangling a car under the bridge. It was also named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy but the two bridges have very little in common when it comes to their architecture.
2. Bitzer’s Mill Covered Bridge
One of the oldest bridge still in use and enjoyed by the townspeople. It is Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This bridge is owned by the county and is maintained using public money because of its historic value. It was built by George Fink and Sam Reamsnyder in 1846 and it only cost $1,115 dollars to put up the bridge. It has been called many names like Martin’s Mill Bridge, Eberly’s Cider Mill Covered Bridge, and Fiand’s/Fiantz’s Covered Bridge but its official designation is Big Conestoga number 2 Bridge.
3. Bucher’s Mill Covered Bridge
Considered as the second shortest covered bridge in America at 54 feet from one side to the other, this historic piece is very popular among tourists. Just like most covered bridge in the registry of historic places, it is owned and maintained using public funds. It was built in 1891 by Elias McMellen using only a single span of wooden truss. The building of the bridge only cost him $1,167. But when it was destroyed due to heavy flooding a year after it was built, McMellen rebuilt it for $1,025 -$142 cheaper than the original cost.
4. Hunsecker’s Mill Covered Bridge
Located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the longest single span covered bridge in the county at 180 feet long. It spans the Conestoga River and has been destroyed and rebuilt for number of times. The most recent being in 1972 when it was destroyed by Hurricane Agnes. It was built in 1843 by John Russell and it cost him around $1,988. When it was last rebuilt, the cost came to about $321,302. Though one of the most popular bridges in America, it is sadly not registered as a historic place because aside from the design, none of its original materials were used on its reconstruction.
5. Schenk’s Mill Covered Bridge
Found in Pennsylvania, this covered bridge crosses the Big Chiques Creek in Lancaster County. Built on a single span Burr arch truss, this historic landmark is painted red and is mainly made of oak. Red is the traditional color of Lancaster County and most bridges follow a red motif. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It was built by friends Charles Malhorn and Levi Fink in 1855, and has since been and important landmark in the county, remembered by tourists for its unforgettable color and span.