My goal of viewing all the bridges in Chester County is (almost) complete. I was unable to view the the Hayes Clark and Speakman II (Mary Ann Pyle) covered bridges because they sit inside the Laurel Preserve, which is owned by the Brandywine Conservancy. You must be a conservancy member to access the property. As you will see below, it was also a rainy day when I went out to see the remaining bridges, and I was on a tight schedule. I will have to come back to see these at some later date.
The first bridge of the day was the Speakman I bridge south of Coatesville. If you are interested in learning more about these bridges, or would like to find your own local covered bridges, I suggest this site.
The next stop (after the aborted Laurel Preserve visit) was a cluster of bridges near the Maryland border. I often find that covered bridges come in clusters, which is very convenient when trying to visit them. These three all sit across Elk Creek.
The next bridge is the impressive Pine Grove Covered Bridge over Octoraro Creek. It is 198 feet long and the longest covered bridge in Chester or Lancaster counties.
I had to sneak in this shot in Oxford:
The final stop was in Lancaster County, because, well, it was nearby and ticks off another bridge.
Chester County still has a fair number of covered bridges, with 15 still in existence. Many of them are open to traffic. It also continues to share some bridges with surrounding counties (Bartram, Pine Grove, and Mercers Mill, for example). A cluster of bridges span French Creek in the northeastern section of the county, west of Phoenixville.
Heading east, we encounter the bridges, beginning with Rapps Dam Covered Bridge.
This post is just the beginning of the promised photos of covered bridges. I set out on a mission to view and, in most cases, photograph my local covered bridges. For those of you interested in finding these bridges for yourself, I recommend this site. A view of the Knox (Valley Forge) covered bridge can be found in my earlier post.
Covered bridges were sometimes called “kissing bridges” because they provided some privacy for travellers to sneak a kiss. While at the Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge, I met a guy who used to bring his girlfriend there from Delaware in the 1980s. So it seems the tradition of young lovers being drawn to covered bridges extended well into the twentieth century.
The Bartram covered bridge straddles the border with Delaware County on Crum Creek. It would make one end, at least, Delaware County’s only covered bridge.
The Gibson covered bridge sits along side a busy road. Traffic through the bridge is only one way. The eastern side has a parking area for access to local hiking in the Brandywine Meadows Preserve.
Driving around locally usually produces more images of farms, even if I am mainly looking for covered bridges. The farms in Chester and Lancaster County are really visually interesting and varied, so I can’t help myself.
Plenty more covered bridge photos are upcoming, too.
This month has certainly seen some wild changes in the weather. We recently went from sunny and low eighties to low thirties within a 24 hour period. It is a relief to get outdoors whenever one can. I took some time to go in search of a trumpeter swan on Octoraro Lake. I didn’t see the swan, but the farms around this area are some of my favorite to photograph.
On my travels, I’ve noticed a lot of fallow fields and newly plowed fields in mid-May. This seems late to me for planting. Is it the weather, or something else?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, that due the corona virus lock down, I haven’t been out much doing photography. I did manage to drive around my local community getting some photos of the spring flowers and flowering trees. I also checked up on two of my local state parks, which were well attended by people glad to get out of the house while maintaining a safe distance from others.
Socially distant dispersed outdoor recreational fun was had by all.
I recently took advantage of the guided tours offered to visit historic Sugartown, a preserved 19th century community located in Chester County. Sugartown is an historic crossroads community dating to 1800. It features several interesting structures such as a general store, barn, book bindery, carriage museum and period homes. The website for Historic Sugartown can be found here.
Tours run from May to November on Saturday and Sunday, and there is a fee. You are welcome to browse the grounds for free. The fee is well worth it to see the interior of the general store, the carriage museum and many vintage tools inside the barn.
I’ve included some interior photographs here that are not great but give one a sense of what these historic properties look like. The interior lighting was very dark, and I was shooting handheld without much time to adjust exposure.
The tour begins with arrival to the rear of the Sharpless Worrall house, a mid 19th century home.
Currently attached to the Sharpless Worrall House is the General Store. The store building was first constructed in c. 1805 by Joseph Waterman when he built his home and Saddle Shop next door. This building also served as a post office for area in the early 1800s.
We then proceeded outside to check out the Carriage Museum. This building was once in ruins, but was it was built on by the Malvern Fire Company to create a satellite station before becoming a museum. Collection highlights include a c. 1800 Conestoga wagon used to haul freight from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, and a hearse used by undertaker George L. Moore of Guthriesville in the 1870s.
Tucked into the back of the Carriage Museum is a really cool dollhouse.
Across the street are several more buildings. First up is a Book Bindery, where you can sign up to take classes in the craft. The building was built in 2001 to house a world-class collection of bookbinding tools and equipment once owned by the late master bookbinder Fred Shihadeh. Today, local bookbinder, Ramon Townsend, of ColonialBindery.com, teaches a variety of workshops in the Book Bindery.
The William Garrett House was constructed on 1805 and relocated to its current position in 2001 to save it from demolition. It is an excellent example of a modified “Quaker Plan” or three-room plan so often used in homes among the Quaker community.
Nearby is the Bank Barn. Typical for Chester County, this 19th century Pennsylvania barn was constructed so that hay wagons could enter the upper level from a bank. Today, the barn preserves a rich agricultural heritage through an agricultural tool exhibit on its upper floor.
The site also features the Hannah Cheever House, dating from 1835. This property was bought and restored by Historic Sugartown to save it and the surrounding property from development.
Historic Sugartown is well worth the visit and is especially lovely in the Spring and Fall.