- Covered bridges are an iconic part of America's transportation and rural history. They're also picturesque, especially during fall.
- The Cornish-Windsor Bridge, which connects New Hampshire to Vermont, is the longest wooden bridge in the country, at 449 feet.
- Confederate troops reportedly haunt the Sachs Covered Bridge, an otherwise picture-perfect structure in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
- Hyde Hall Covered Bridge in Cooperstown, New York, is the oldest in the country.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
What started out as an extra safety measure to protect the wooden timbers supporting bridges from the elements, covered bridges have become synonymous with our image of the American countryside. Especially popular in New England — though Pennsylvania has the most covered bridges with 213 and Ohio the second most with 148 — covered bridges have become magnets for tourists looking to take a step back through history or beautiful pictures of rural America.
If you're planning on going leaf-peeping one more time before the end of the season, here are 21 covered bridges perfect for a fall drive. The fall foliage brings out the beauty in all of these structures, almost all of which have earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
America's oldest standing covered bridge is Hyde Hall Bridge in Cooperstown, New York.
Cooperstown is home to more than just the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It's also home to Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, the oldest documented covered bridge in New York and the US. Built in 1825, it is located at the northern tip of Otsego Lake in Glimmerglass State Park and carries pedestrian traffic across Shadow Brook, according to the New York State Covered Bridge Society. It is one of only three covered bridges in the state with horizontal siding.
Protesters saved the Weddle Covered Bridge in Sweet Home, Oregon, and helped protect the rest of the state's covered bridges.
After the construction of a concrete bridge further down Thomas Creek in 1980, the Weddle Covered Bridge fell into disuse, was deemed unsafe, and slated for demolition later that decade, according to Covered-bridges.org. This sparked outrage among local bridge enthusiasts, leading to protests and one individual even chaining himself to a bulldozer.
This all attracted the attention of Senator Mae Yih, a covered bridge enthusiast herself, who led the Oregon Legislature to establish the Oregon Covered Bridge Program, which helps cover the costs of repairing and maintaining the state's covered bridges. The Weddle Covered Bridge was the first to receive a grant from the program and in 1989, the bridge was moved to its current location over Ames Creek.
The Artist's Bridge in Newry, Maine, is named after an American painter who loved the structure.
Every artist has their muse. For John Joseph Enneking, one of America's first impressionist painters, it was the Sunday River Bridge in Newry, Maine. According to Atlas Obscura, after Enneking finished his duty as a Union soldier in the Civil War, he devoted himself to painting. He became so skilled that he was one of the first Americans to paint Claude Monet's garden.
Over the years Enneking became a master of painting New England's landscapes and, though he lived in Boston, loved traveling to Newry. Enneking was seen painting en plein air near the bridge so often that it became commonly referred to as Artist's Bridge.
The Stark Covered Bridge in New Hampshire's Stark Village was swept downstream in the 1890s but still handles traffic today.
When the Stark Covered Bridge was built in 1862, it only had one central pier holding up the structure. This proved to be no match for the Upper Ammonoosuc River, which, during high waters in the 1890s, destroyed the pier and pulled the bridge downstream, according to the State of New Hampshire. A team of men and oxen had to pull the bridge back to its proper location, where it was repaired and placed on a new set of stone piers.
Campbell's Covered Bridge in Gowensville, South Carolina, is the state's last standing covered bridge.
Now located in a Greenville County park, Campbell's Covered Bridge and the nearby grist mill are perfect places to take in the fall foliage.
At only 38 feet long, it's one of America's smaller covered bridges. But its impact on local communities was felt. According to the SC Picture Project, Campbell's Covered Bridge connected several rural communities and turned what was once a 25-mile, day-long trip into one that took only an hour.
The Philippi Covered Bridge in Philippi, West Virginia, is the only covered bridge in use by the US Highway System.
On June 3, 1861, the first land battle of the Civil War took place in Philippi, West Virginia. During the course of the battle, Union troops took control of the Philippi Covered Bridge and used it as barracks, according to West Virginia Tourism.
Today, despite 60% of the bridge burning in 1989, the double-barreled 286-foot-long bridge, which was built in 1852, is the only remaining covered bridge in service by the US Federal Highway System, transporting cars on US Route 250, according to WDTV.
The Flume Covered Bridge in Lincoln, New Hampshire, is named after a nearby gorge.
Located in Lincoln, New Hampshire, the picturesque Flume Covered Bridge overlooks the Pemigewasset River in Franconia Notch State Park. It is debated whether the candy-apple red structure was built in 1871 or 1886, but regardless, it one of the oldest covered bridges in the state. According to New Hampshire State Parks, bridges like Flume "were often called 'kissing bridges' because of the darkness and privacy they provided."
Today, only park traffic such as tour buses are allowed to drive through the bridge. But there's a walkway attached to the bridge's north side so that hikers can travel to its namesake, Flume Gorge, which extends 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty.
The Felton Covered Bridge in Felton, California, is the tallest in the US.
Originally constructed in 1892 as the main access point into Felton, California, the Felton Covered Bridge is now only used for pedestrian traffic. It stretches 80 feet across the San Lorenzo River and stands a whopping 35 feet tall, making it the tallest covered bridge in the country, according to Culture Trip. The bridge is also reportedly haunted by the ghost of a woman who was killed there after she was accused of being a witch.
Connecticut's West Cornwall Covered Bridge is one of the most iconic in all of New England.
After years of trying and failing to construct a bridge to span the Housatonic River, the 172-foot-long West Cornwall Covered Bridge in West Cornwall, Connecticut, was built in 1841 and still carries traffic to this day. But its longevity hasn't come without issues.
According to Connecticut History.org, as traffic advanced, the safety of the bridge was questioned, leading to its temporary closure in the 1920s. In 1945 a 20-ton oil tanker fell through the bridge's floor and in 1968, the State of Connecticut planned on replacing the bridge until the local community petitioned to renovate it instead. In 1973 the state's Department of Transportation inserted a steel support deck that has not only kept the structure healthy well into the 21st century but also won an award from the Federal Highway Administration for historic preservation.
The bridge has grown to become one of the most popular in New England, inspiring historian Michael Gannett to pen "A Historical Guide to the West Cornwall Covered Bridge," and earning it a spot in the opening scenes of the 1967 movie "Valley of the Dolls."
A quirky arch defines Humpback Covered Bridge in Covington, Virginia.
Built in 1857, Humpback Bridge is Virginia's oldest remaining covered bridge, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. Spanning 100 feet across Dunlap Creek, it is 4 feet higher in the middle, giving the bridge its iconic arched structure.
Traffic hasn't crossed the bridge since 1929, and for many years the bridge was neglected and became rundown — at one point a nearby farmer used the bridge to store hay. But in 1954 the bridge was reopened to the public as a tourism spot, following local fundraising efforts to restore it.
Goodpasture Covered Bridge near Vida, Oregon, is famous for its louvered windows.
Stretching 165 feet across the McKenzie River, the Goodpasture Covered Bridge, built in 1938, is truly one of a kind. While some covered bridges are open on the sides so pedestrians can admire the surrounding landscape, Goodpasture features 10 Gothic-style louvered windows on each side, which have helped make it, as Eugene Cascades & Coast writes, "Oregon's most frequently photographed covered bridge."
Though the bridge is picturesque among the fall foliage, during the holidays the bridge is lit up using LED lights and decorated with Christmas trimmings, turning it into an even more photogenic destination.
The Horton Mill Covered Bridge is one of three intact structures that make Blount County, Alabama, the state's covered bridge capital.
Towering 70 feet above the Calvert Prong of the Little Warrior River, the Horton Mill Covered Bridge in Oneonta, Alabama, is the highest covered bridge above a body of water in the US, according to Alabama.com. Built in 1935, the 208-foot-long bridge is one of three bridges in Blount County that make it the state's covered bridge capital. After a renovation in 2013, the bridge reopened to traffic.
The bridge features a dedicated nature trail, which has become a popular spot for local bird watchers to spot resident and migratory birds. It is also the site of the state's annual Covered Bridge Festival.
The Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa, is Hollywood famous and reportedly haunted.
Popularized by the novel and film "The Bridges of Madison County," the Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa, is one of six — and arguably the most famous — remaining bridges of the original 19 structures erected in the area. The bridge, built in 1883, is not only famous for being the romantic backdrop for Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep — it's also reportedly haunted.
According to Only In Your State, there are two spooky folktales involving the bridge. The first tells the story of a father's disapproval of his daughter's boyfriend. One night, the young man rode toward his lover's house intent on being with her but found the father and his friends instead. They chased him back across the bridge but when the horse appeared on the other side, the young man was nowhere to be found.
The second tells the tale of an escaped convict who, when blocked off on both sides of the bridge by the sheriff's men, reportedly screamed and disappeared into thin air, never to be found.
Pioneers and miners first used the Wowana Covered Bridge in the Yosemite Valley during the mid-1800s.
One of the few remaining covered bridges in California, the Wawona Covered Bridge was once the gateway for pioneers and tourists to travel to Yosemite National Park. According to the National Park Service, the bridge was constructed in 1857 and extends 130 feet across the South Fork of the Merced River. It wasn't actually covered until 1879, when a trio of brothers from Vermont who ran the nearby Wawona Hotel felt homesick and decided to add walls and a steeply pitched ceiling which, according to their granddaughters, reminded them of the covered bridges and houses back home in New England.
Throughout the years, many famous people traveled to Yosemite National Park via the Wawona bridge, including Theodore Roosevelt and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The Cornish-Windsor Bridge connecting New Hampshire and Vermont is the longest wooden bridge in America.
Built in 1866, the Cornish-Windsor Bridge crosses the Connecticut River and connects the towns of Cornish, New Hampshire, and Windsor, Vermont. According to the State of New Hampshire's website, at 449 feet and 5 inches, the bridge is the longest wooden bridge in the country and the longest two-span covered bridge in the world.
Prior to its construction, three other bridges existed in its place but were all destroyed by floods. The Cornish-Windsor bridge also suffered flood and ice damage in 1977, eventually forcing it to be closed to traffic in 1987. In 1989, after a $4.4 million renovation, the bridge reopened to traffic.
Union and Confederate troops used the Sachs Covered Bridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the Civil War.
For over 100 years after David Stoner built this 100-foot-long bridge in 1852, pedestrian traffic flowed over Marsh Creek via the Sachs Covered Bridge; in 1968 it was closed to automobiles. Today it's still a popular tourist attraction. According to Destination Gettysburg, the Department of Highways, in 1938, designated the bridge as Pennsylvania's "most historic bridge," largely due to its use by both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War.
Perhaps because of its proximity to the location of the Battle of Gettysburg, where more than 50,000 Union and Confederate troops died, the bridge is reported to be one of the most haunted spots in the state. According to Civil War Ghosts, at least three Southern soldiers were executed at the bridge; visitors report seeing three heads floating on the bridge at night, and some claim they've even snapped pictures of the three soldiers' ghosts. Visitors have also reported smelling cigar smoke, feeling taps on their shoulders, and hearing the sound of gunshots.
The Portland Mills Covered Bridge in Parke County, Indiana, was saved from demolition and is now the perfect backdrop for a picture.
Five years after its construction in 1865, the Portland Mills Covered Bridge was scheduled for demolition. The Town of Portland Mills was to be filled in as a part of the project to create Lake Mansfield, according to Raccoon Lake's website. Instead, in 1961 the bridge was moved to the location of the Dooley Station Covered Bridge, which was destroyed in an act of arson in 1960. After various restorative efforts throughout the last century, the bridge is now open to traffic.
The Newfield Covered Bridge in Newfield, New York, was supposed to feature a European-style mural until the artist died.
When the Newfield Covered Bridge was built from 1851-1853, it originally featured solid siding along the length of the structure. But later, according to the Newfield Historical Society, diamond-shaped windows were cut to let light in and to observe the West Branch of the Cayuga Inlet.
Legend has it that $200 of the original $800 it cost to build the structure were intended for a decorative mural like the ones commonly found in covered bridges in Lucerne, Switzerland. But the artist died and no one could agree on a replacement before the start of the Civil War. The bridge has had to be reconstructed twice and in 1969 it was almost torn down, but Grant and Marie Musser who are nicknamed the "Keepers of the Bridge," saved the structure.
The Bridgeport Covered Bridge in Nevada County, California, is the longest single-span wood truss bridge in the world.
In addition to being the longest in the world at 226 feet, the Bridgeport Covered Bridge is also "the only remaining single-span Howe Truss-Burr Arch covered timber bridge of this size in the nation," according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The bridge has been closed since 2011 and is in the final stage of a $6.9 million restoration project.
The Horton Covered Bridge sits atop the Lower Falls at Amnicon Falls State Park in Wisconsin.
Originally uncovered and used as a highway bridge to cross the Amnicon River, the Horton Covered Bridge is now a quaint attraction within Amnicon Falls State Park. Bridgehunters can enjoy the park's gorgeous foliage and numerous waterfalls in addition to this historic structure.
Floods and fires destroyed the four bridges that preceded Bath Covered Bridge in Bath, New Hampshire.
Based on the Town of Bath's history of covered bridges crossing the Ammonoosuc River, it's a miracle the Bath Covered Bridge has handled traffic since its construction in 1832. The area's first three bridges were lost to floods and the fourth burned down, according to the State of New Hampshire.
In March 1833, the town voted to post a sign (that still hangs today) reading "ONE DOLLAR FINE TO DRIVE ANY TEAM FASTER THAN A WALK ON THIS BRIDGE," encouraging people to "walk" their horses across the structure instead of gallop, fearing that the impact would cause the fifth bridge to collapse, according to Historic Structures.
Source: Read Full Article