Covered bridges are part of our history, and always evoke emotion. Just the sight of a covered bridge conjures up memories of a less stressful, easier time. The state of Ohio claims to have at least 135 covered bridges throughout the state, and that number may be growing.
Ohio is home to both the shortest covered bridge and the largest, multi-span covered bridge in the United States. Covered bridges remind us that practical design can also reflect awe-inspiring, timeless beauty. These 15 covered bridges in Ohio will transport you back in time, and hopefully stir up some emotion in the process.
1. West Liberty Covered Bridge, Ashtabula County
This one-of-a-kind structure is known as the shortest covered bridge in the United States. The West Liberty Covered Bridge spans a mere 18 feet from end to end. The bridge has a 15-foot clearance, a scissor truss roof, and a single Kingpost for support.
Additionally, the roof features a more prominent slope than more typical covered bridges. Students on the campus of the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School built the West Liberty Covered Bridge using all local timber. A single toll booth stands adjacent to the bridge as a reminder to all who pass of the times when travelers had to pay for the privilege of crossing a bridge.
2. Newton Falls Covered Bridge, Trumball County
The Newton Falls Covered Bridge is the last surviving covered bridge in Trumball County, Ohio. It was built in 1831 to span the Mahoning River. The Newton Falls Covered Bridge is the second oldest surviving covered bridge in Ohio. It is also the oldest covered bridge with a crosswalk in the state.
The Newton Falls covered bridge features a lattice truss design. This design was first developed in Ireland as a wide-open, shallow-rise roof truss solution for industrial structures.
3. Skull Fork Covered Bridge, Harrison County
The Skull Fork Creek Covered Bridge was built in 1876. Located near Freeport in Harrison County, the 45-foot-long bridge is a single-span, multiple king truss-covered structure spanning the Skull Fork Creek.
According to legend, Skull Fork Creek got its name after the discovery of human skulls in the area, thought to be the remains of the victims of a historical, local Indian massacre. The bridge is no longer active but is accessible by gravel roadways for scenic drives, biking, and hikes.
4. Christman Covered Bridge, Preble County
The Christman Bridge gets its name from Soloman Christman, a local farmer. In fact, the remains of Christmans’s nearby farm and water-powered sawmill are still visible about 200 yards west of the bridge site.
The interior of the bridge features horizontal planking with two lengthwise runners, while the exterior features a red and white tin roof, white plank siding, and projected entryways.
The bridge sits on stone abutments and concrete. Reinforced and strengthened in 1920 and in 1960, it is still open to local traffic. Like many of these beautiful and historic covered bridges, the Christman Bridge sits on the National Register of Historic Places, posted October 22, 1976.
5. Helmick Covered Bridge, Morgan County
The Helmick Covered Bridge is just one of the historic bridges you’ll see while on the Morgan County Covered Bridge Trail. The bridge crosses Island Run in Morgan County with a span of 74 feet and an initial price tag of only $872.
The Helmick Covered Bridge was built in 1867 using the multiple Kingpost truss system. A center pier was installed in the 1940s for extra support. After a redesign and rebuild in 2008 that added a Burr Arch, the center pier was removed completely.
6. Hune Covered Bridge, Washington County
The Hune Covered Bridge was built in 1879 by Rolla Merydith. Renovations took place in 1998 to preserve the bridge for vehicular traffic. Yellow poplar wood from the nearby Hune Farm was sourced for the bridge’s construction. The Hune Covered Bridge is 164 feet long with a vertical clearance of 14 feet, spanning the Little Muskingum River by way of Cullen Road. It is still active and in use for vehicular traffic.
7. Bridge of Dreams, Knox County
Aptly named the Bridge of Dreams, this massive 370-foot-long bridge stands as a reminder that any dream worth pursuing is possible. With the help of Amish artisans and volunteers, local residents were able to transform an old Pennsylvania Railway into a picturesque covered pedestrian bridge.
Much to the surprise of many skeptics, the Bridge of Dreams opened to foot traffic in 1998. It is the second-longest covered bridge in the state, and the third-longest in the US. The bridge still sits on top of the original steel railroad beams from the 1920s and spans the Mohican River.
The bridge is part of a multi-use trail that stretches from the Holmes County line near Brinkhaven to Danville. The trail connects the Kokosing Gap Trail and the Holmes County Trail.
8. Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge, Ashtabula County
The Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge is the longest-covered bridge in the United States. John Smolen, a former county engineer, is responsible for the engineering and structural design, and Timothy Martin, a current county engineer, is responsible for the architectural design.
The imposing structure is 613 feet long and stands 93 feet above the Ashtabula River. With a clear width of 30 feet and a height clearance of 14 feet 6 inches, it is built to support full legal load traffic. The Pratt Truss constructed bridge was dedicated in August of 2008, and has a life expectancy of 100 years.
9. Pottersburg Covered Bridge, Union County
Initially constructed in 1873, the Pottersburg Covered Bridge was originally built in the same location as the current North Lewisburg Road Covered Bridge. However, the original one-lane bridge was deemed insufficient to handle the increase in traffic that appeared when Honda built their North American headquarters nearby.
In order to save the historic bridge, the original bridge was relocated to become part of a nearby rails-to-trails project. Subsequently, the original Pottersburg Covered Bridge is now part of a 1.9-mile, paved, multi-purpose trail.
The bridge received its full-length canopy and unique side windows in 1937. Twelve years later, in 1949, the bridge received three 6-foot by 10-foot I-beams installed under each corner span for support and safety. The bridge spans 94 feet and is available for special events and get-togethers under the direction of the Union County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
10. Harpersfield Covered Bridge, Ashtabula County
The Harpersfield Covered Bridge is listed as the second longest covered bridge in the state of Ohio. Its 228-foot length spans the Grand River and is located in the County MetroPark. The bridge was constructed in 1868 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1913, a flood washed away the North end of the bridge. That same flood also changed the river channel. Repair and restoration crews attached a steel bridge to reinforce the bridge. In the early 1990s, the bridge received walkways for pedestrian use.
11. Black (Pugh’s Mill) Covered Bridge, Butler County
Constructed in 1868, the Black, or Pugh’s Mill Covered Bridge was the primary way to access James B. Pugh’s saw and grist mill on the Four Mile (Talawanda) Creek. After Pugh’s Mill stopped operating, the bridge gradually became known as the Black Covered Bridge in response to there being a nearby White Bridge downstream.
Because of its two-truss system used within a single structure (Childs and Long), Black Bridge is unique and one of the few remaining covered bridges in southwestern Ohio.
In 2000, the bridge underwent restoration thanks to the Oxford Museum Association, the Butler County Commissioners, and the Butler County Engineer’s Office. The bridge now also features a State of Ohio Bicentennial Historic Marker.
12. Spain Creek Covered Bridge, Union County
The Spain Creek Covered Bridge is Union County’s smallest bridge. It suffered significant damage to its overhead braces due to heavy machinery twice in its lifetime, first in 2008 and then again in 2016.
This bridge features a unique bridge-within-a-bridge design. The covered bridge bears only its own weight, leaving the wood trusses to carry only their own weight and the weight of the roof and siding. Independant internal wood girders and floor panels support and carry the actual traffic weight.
Reuben Partridge built and designed the Spain Creek Covered Bridge in the 1870s. It is only one of five remaining bridges built by Partridge. The bridge spans 64 feet, complete with windows and awnings added prior to 1930.
13. Eldean Covered Bridge, Miami County
The Eldean Bridge is a National Historical Monument. It is currently available to experience on foot, bicycle, or car, where visitors will see beautiful farmland and the scenic corridor of the Great Miami River.
The bridge features distinctive craftsmanship and the ability to send visitors back in time. The Eldean Covered Bridge received its National Historic Landmark designation by the U.S. Department of Interior in 2017.
14. Netcher Road Covered Bridge, Ashtabula County
Constructed in 1998 and opened to traffic in 1999, the Netcher Road Covered Bridge is one of the newest driveable bridges in the county. It is a single-span bridge with timber arch construction with inverted Haupt walls. The bridge spans Mill Creek in Jefferson Township and received its funding through an ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) Timber Grant.
15. Teegarden-Centennial Covered Bridge, Columbiana County
The Teegarden-Centennial Covered Bridge crosses Little Beaver Creek in Columbiana County. It is one of the most photogenic places to visit, hang out, and explore along the nearby trails.
Constructed in 1876, the bridge is currently open only to pedestrian traffic and is a favorite place to visit during fall leaf color change. Teegarden-Centennial Covered Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
Photo opportunities present themselves from every angle of the bridge, and the paved, neighboring trails stretch out in every direction for an inspiring day of walking, running, or bicycling among nature.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock.com
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