Happiness & Long Life for All its Residents #93

Becky Weiser

Wednesday Aug 17th, 2022

Every now and then, the author of this blog gets out to enjoy the surrounding beauty of our area.  I took a drive to Conneaut township, Ohio, recently and remembered that there were several covered bridges in the area to be admired.  Well, I had the wrong car for the job because my low-profile tires do not like dirt roads (my last experience ended with a tow truck ride!) but I found two of the four bridges anyhow and checked them out.


Why do covered bridges exist, other than to look pretty? Most were built in the United States between 1820 – 1900 and used the most assessable and inexpensive material available for bridges at the time, wood.  Easily subject to rot, the bridge was covered to protect the trusses and deck.  The picturesque trusses supported the bridge by distributing the weight of the deck when wagons (or cars today) cross over.  By the 1880s, iron and steel were more commonly used.  Railroads made prefabricated bridges available to most parts of the country, and automobiles use of paved roads made wood outdated. 

Erie County Pennsylvania currently has two covered bridges.  The Waterford bridge, which was built by William Sherman in 1875, crosses an 85-foot span over LeBoeuf Creek.   It is a King Post truss design as pictured below.


The Harrington Covered Bridge, which was built by Charles and James Phelps in 1870, took two months to complete.  This bridge was rebuilt in 1962 and is located near Albion, crossing 72 feet of Conneaut Creek.  It is a Town Lattice Truss bridge, one of only 19 remaining in Pennsylvania and is pictured below.


There are plenty of other reasons given why bridges may be covered.  One is to make it seem to animals that they are entering a safe barn instead of crossing water.  Another is to provide shelter to those travelling in a storm.  My favorite reason is that a gentleman, while courting a lady, would have a place to kiss her away from the eyes of others not on the bridge.  Whatever the reasons, they are an architectural gem in our rural areas which bring me great happiness!