When you think of covered bridges, chances are you think of old historical structures. And you’d largely be correct.
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s article Ohio’s Vanishing Covered Bridges:
Most of America’s covered bridges were built between 1825 and 1875. By the 1870s, most bridges were covered at the time of construction. The original reason for the cover was to protect the bridge’s trusses and decks from snow and rain, preventing decay and rot. The cover served other purposes also-it kept horses from being spooked by the waters underneath, it was a reprieve from weather to the weary traveler, and it was used for political rallies, religious meetings, a night’s sleep for tramps, town meetings, poker parties, sweethearts’ rendezvous, drunken revels, dances, and even rainy-day luncheons took place on the covered bridge. An uncovered bridge would last approximately 20 years but a covered one could last 100 years.
Floods washing away the bridges caused the need for redesigning them. Builders began to use a combination of iron and wood trusses. The invention of the automobile encouraged builders to use steel. But with World War I came a shortage of steel and the wood bridges again became the norm. Now they were being built with windows, laminated floors, asphalt surfaces and interior whitewashing.
…Ohio is second to Pennsylvania in remaining covered bridges. All over America concrete and steel have replaced instead of repaired the structures that are so vital to our historical past. Down from 3,500 to approximately 138, the historic covered bridge that Ohioans over the centuries have enjoyed is quickly disappearing.
Interestingly enough, there is a modest resurgence in building covered bridges today. By 2005, Ohio was the only state where the number of covered bridges was increasing. This is a scenic trend going on in several locations, including in nearby Madison County, a rural farming area where I spent some of my younger years. Last year, a brand new covered bridge went up there across Little Darby Creek. The construction was not without delays, design issues and questions of cost. Yet the result was photogenic. I made a brief visit to the bridge and wanted to share some photos I took of it.
The covered bridge spans the Little Darby at the site of an old quarry, not far at all from a small park. It was easy to walk out along the road and take a closer look.
On one side of the bridge is a pedestrian walkway.
The Darby Creek watershed is both a state and national scenic river system.
The bridge is less than a year old, and the sight and smell of crisp new lumber fills the senses.
I like the idea of continuing the covered bridge tradition. It’s a link to Ohio’s past.
Down below, the Little Darby widens out into the old quarry area.
Lizard’s Tail was blooming in the shallow water.
Water Willow also bloomed in shallow areas.
Ohio’s most numerous turtle- Painted Turtles- could be seen resting on logs.
It wouldn’t be a summer scene without Chicory and Queen Anne’s Lace along the road!
…and not too far away, a purple cow advertised an ice cream shoppe. Now that’s my kind of summer.