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Sunday, October 24, 2010 11:54 AM

Parke County, Indiana, is known as the Covered Bridge Capitol of the Unite States. They have preserved 32 of their authentic covered bridges. The country-side around Rockville and the other towns is absolutely beautiful with rolling hills — especially in the fall with the changing colors. I’ve visited this county several times and captured photos of nearly all the bridges. While I took pictures, my husband, Hups, looked over the inside construction. There are several types.

The county holds a huge Covered Bridge Festival in Rockville for about 10 days each October. Sorry! It’s over for this year but you can still take your own driving tour.

Ohio ranks second in the US with the number of remaining covered bridges. Only Pennsylvania outranks Ohio, with their 219 bridges in 40 of its 67 counties. Ohio has approximately 138 of these nostalgic and useful structures.

Some sources claim the history of the bridges goes back to the 14th Century in Europe, especially Switzerland. Others claim their history can be traced to 780 BC in ancient Babylon. One thing is sure, Luzerne, Switzerland, has a famous historical bridge County Roadossing the river in the center of the city.

America’s first covered bridge, the Waterford Bridge, was built in Connecticut in 1804 by Theodore Burr. It spanned the Hudson River and lasted for 105 years. The next two were built years later, in 1851 and 1852 in the state of Oregon but they were destroyed by floodwaters in 1853.

The longest covered bridge in history was built in 1814 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was more than a mile long but was destroyed in 1832 by ice and high water.

Most of Ohio’s covered bridges are found in the southeastern counties amid the rolling hills and spanning scenic rivers and County Roadeeks.

Wayne National Forest is home to the Covered Bridge Scenic Byway. This tour is featured in “The Most Scenic Drives in America” (by Readers Digest); Backroads of Ohio and other books.

This tour snakes along the Little Muskingum River, down near the Ohio River. It begins at Marietta, where you take Route 7 east, then fork into State Route 26. The 44 mile drive winds its way along Route 26, following forested ridge tops that overlook deep hollows and then descends to the river valley, where you drive through rolling farmland to Woodsfield. Four authentic – historic covered bridges can be seen along the way.

The first is the Hills CB in Washington County, about 4.5 miles outside Marietta, located south of Hills about three tenths of a mile on County Road 635 east. This 122 foot bridge was built in 1878 and refurbished in 2008.

Next you will come to the Hune Covered Bridge, on Lawrence Road (TR 34), just south of Route 26 in Washington County. This 128-foot bridge was built in 1879. Third is the Rinard Covered Bridge which was built in 1875. This 130-foot bridge was destroyed by flood waters, which were caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This Washington County bridge was rebuilt and is located southwest of Bloomfield, off County Road 406, just north of Route 26. Washington County is listed as having 10 covered bridges.

These people take a lot of pride in their bridges and realize that they bring thousands of tourists to the area.
The fourth on the tour is the Knowlton, which is in Monroe County. This three span, 192-foot bridge was built in 1887 and is the second longest covered bridge in Ohio.

An added bonus for the tour is some quaint little towns with general stores, old mills and homesteads, along with old Mail Pouch Barns.
You still have time to take this week-end tour before the snow flies. Heavy snows may close the road through the Wayne National Forest.

The nearest authentic covered bridges to be found in our area are in Logan County. They are the McCollly, on County Road 13, west of Route 235 by one mile and the Bickham bridge on County Road 38, north of Route 366 by about three miles. The McColly is 125 feet long and built in 1876. The Bickham bridge is 94 feet long and built in 1877. It was rehabilitated in 2002.

The purpose of a covered bridge was to protect the framing and floor from the elements. Most of the bridges have gone way beyond their expected life of 100 years.

More to come on Ohio Covered Bridges in three weeks in This & That.


Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 3:16 PM

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