Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge

Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge over Mill Creek in Lancaster County Central Park. The bridge is also known as the County Park Covered Bridge, Baer’s Mill Covered Bridge, Isaac Baer’s Mill Bridge, Keystone Mill Covered Bridge, Binder Tongue Carrier Covered Bridge, and Mill 2A Covered Bridge (that’s a lot of names). The bridge is used by road traffic from within the park to access a picnic pavilion.

Kurtz’s Mill Covered Bridge

The bridge has a single span, wooden, double burr arch trusses design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks. It is painted red, the traditional color of Lancaster County covered bridges, on both the inside and outside. Both approaches to the bridge are painted in red with white trim. It has a 94 foot span.

The span of the bridge from the trail below. Excuse the backlighting.

The bridge was built in 1876 by W. W. Upp over the Conestoga River. In 1972, it was damaged by the floodwaters caused by Hurricane Agnes. It was repaired by David Esh in 1975 and moved to its present location in the Lancaster County Park over Mill Creek, a tributary of the Conestoga River. Unlike most historic covered bridges in the county, it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The banks of Mill Creek

The Wertz Covered Bridge

The Wertz Covered Bridge, also known as the Red Covered Bridge (but aren’t most of them), is a historic wooden covered bridge located at Bern Township and Spring Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The bridge is a 204-foot-long, Burr Truss bridge, constructed in 1867. It crosses the Tulpehocken Creek. It serves as the walkway entrance to the Berks County Heritage Center, which also includes the Gruber Wagon Works. It is one of only five covered bridges remaining in Berks County. It is the largest single-span covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was restored in 1959 and later in 1984, however, when the Warren Street Bypass opened, the bridge was closed permanently in October, 1959. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1978.

The bridge is part of the Berks County Heritage Center, an historical interpretive complex commemorating important eras of Berks County cultural history. The Gruber Wagon Works (a National Historic Landmark) the C. Howard Hiester Canal Center, Wertz’s Covered Bridge, Melcher’s Grist Mill, Deppen Cemetery, Bicentennial Eagle Memorial, the Distlefink statue and a salad and herb garden are all encompassed within the Heritage Center.

The view from Tulpehocken Road.
Inside Pennsylvania’s longest single span covered bridge.
The Bat Colony of the bridge. I love bats. They eat insects and are so cute.
A look around the Berks County Heritage Center…
A look up at the bridge.
The view from the other end.
Tulpehocken Creek

One Bridge to Rule Them All

The Pomeroy-Academia Covered Bridge in Port Royal, Juniata County is the longest remaining covered bridge in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was built in 1902 and is 278 feet long. It is a single-lane, double-span wooden covered bridge which crosses the Tuscarora Creek. Its design is based on the Burr truss developed by Theodore Burr, who was a preeminent bridge designer and builder. This bridge has been owned by the Juniata County Historical Societysince 1962. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

A view of the bridge. It is so long it has a center support.
Let’s look inside.
Looking toward the new road bridge.
A view of Tuscarora Creek.

Downstreem and off on the tributary Licking Creek, one finds the Lehman Covered Bridge, an historic covered bridge located near Port Royal in Juniata County. It is a Double Burr Arch truss bridge and was built in 1888. It measures 107 feet and has vertical siding, windows at eave level, and a gable roof. It was damaged during Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and subsequently rebuilt. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

To the south is the Delville Covered Bridge. This bridge is located at Dellville, Perry County. It is a 174-foot-long, three span, Burr truss bridge over Sherman Creek, constructed in 1889. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. On November 3, 2014, the bridge was significantly damaged in a fire that police believe to have been caused by arson. By early 2019, most of the structure has been completely restored back to its original condition.

There is a nice little park around this bridge for a picnic.
Sherman Creek.

Some additional bridges on upstream on Sherman Creek are pictured in my blog post on Sherman’s Valley.

Some Very Special Bridges

Columbia County is home to a unique pair of bridges. The Twin Bridges, named East Paden and West Paden, are located on Huntington Creek. They were constructed in 1884 by W. C. Pennington for $720, and are named after John Paden, who operated a nearby sawmill. Twin Bridges County Park was created in 1963 when a new road bypassed the bridges.

The original West Paden was washed away by floods waters in June 2006. It was reconstructed in 2008. The bridges are open to foot traffic and contain picnic tables. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The rebuilt West Paden Bridge – you can see a bit of the new road bridge to the left.
A very refreshing dip in Huntington Creek.
The view from the side, and picnickers with the downward view.
The shady inside.
The entrance from the East Paden side.
A view from the park of both bridges.
Inside East Paden.
Casting an interesting shadow.

Now for a bonus bridge – down the road a short distance is the Josiah Hess Covered Bridge. It has a deep woods feeling compared to the Paden Bridges. You can walk through this bridge.

The Josiah Hess Bridge.
A very shady interior.
Down the side, from the other end of the bridge.

Finding My Way Home

My trip to central Pennsylvania this past October came to and end, and I made my way back home slowly that Sunday. Blessed with some nice weather, it was a great drive.

My first stop was the Logan Mills Covered Bridge and surrounding village. This bridge is located in Loganton, PA in Clinton County. The bridge is a 55-foot-long 12-foot-wide, Queen post truss bridge. It was constructed in 1874 and crosses Fishing Creek. It is the only remaining covered bridge in Clinton County. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Logan Mills Covered Bridge.
Some nicely preserved buidlings are adjacent to the bridge.

My next stop was an overlook on Jones Mountain Road in Union County in Bald Eagle State forest. This was a spectacular vista, with nothing visible but trees and mountains all the way to the horizon.

The panorama shot.
Up close with some brilliant reds.
A smoke in the wilderness.

A made a quick drive through Raymond B. Winter State Park and came across this enchanting scene:

A Sunday picnic in the park.

State Parks in Autumn

This post is a beginning of a series on some central Pennsylvania state parks that I visited in October. The first up is Little Buffalo State Park in Newport, Perry County, PA. The visitor to Little Buffalo can partake of campgrounds, a swimming pool, a lake, hunting, fishing, picnicking and hiking. The park is 923 acres and was opened in 1972. It also features some historical sites which we’ll take a look at below.

Little Buffalo State Park is named for Little Buffalo Creek which runs through the park. The creek and the nearby Buffalo Ridge are named for the bison that are believed to have once roamed the ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania. Humans have lived in what is now Pennsylvania since at least 10,000 BC. The first settlers were Paleo-Indian nomadic hunters known from their stone tools. The hunter-gatherers of the Archaic period, which lasted locally from 7000 to 1000 BC, used a greater variety of more sophisticated stone artifacts. The Woodland period marked the gradual transition to semi-permanent villages and horticulture, between 1000 BC and 1500 AD. Archeological evidence found in the state from this time includes a range of pottery types and styles, burial mounds, pipes, bows and arrow, and ornaments. Perry County was part of the Albany Purchase of 1754 when the colonists purchased a large tract of land from the Iroquois League of Six Nations.

The lake reflecting the fall colors.
A quiet moment under a blaze of orange.
Canoe season is almost over.

European settlers arrived in the area in force after the Revolutionary War. John Koch, one of the first to farm the area in the 1790s, opened the Blue Ball Tavern in 1811. The tavern offered food, drink, and a sleeping loft. The Blue Ball Tavern served as a rest stop for messengers who travelled between Carlisle and Sunbury during the War of 1812. It is rumored that the tavern was where the plans for the creation of Perry County were made in 1821. The tavern was closed in 1841. A farmhouse was built in 1865 on the foundation of the tavern. Some recycled boards and hardware from the tavern were used in the construction of the farmhouse which currently houses the Blue Ball Tavern Museum and a library that are operated by the Perry County Historical Society.

The Blue Ball Tavern Museum.

William Shoaff bought 63 acres of land in the area and a gristmill from the Juniata Iron Works in 1849 after it had been shut down. The local farmers brought their crops to Shoaff’s Mill until the 1940s. The mill has since been restored and is back in operation. Visitors to the park can observe the milling of cornmeal, cracked corn and the grinding of apples for apple cider.

The mill. Sadly, the wheel was not running when I visited.

For me, not surprisingly, a covered bridge was one of the highlights. This is Clay’s Covered Bridge. It is a short walk from a parking area on your way to the mill.

And They’re Back …

This past Labor Day Weekend was spent trying to see the covered bridges in Columbia County that I had not previously viewed. I was able to see the remaining bridges, except the Lawrence L. Knoebel Covered Bridge inside Knoebels Grove, which was skipped due to the holiday weekend. It wasn’t visible from the road. The weather was nice this day, unlike on some of my other recent covered bridge adventures. I’ve put most of the rest of Columbia County’s bridges in this post, leaving a special grouping until another day.

The Columbia County bridges are painted red, although some do have white trim. All but one of the bridges pictured below are in the southern part of the county, south of Route 80.

The Krickbaum Covered Bridge
The Richards Covered Bridge
The Johnson Covered Bridge
Parrs Mill Covered Bridge – access to this one is blocked, and I’m not that ambitious.
The Esther Furnace Covered Bridge
A good side view here.
The Davis Covered Bridge
The Snyder Covered Bridge.
Good access for the side view here.
The Hollingshead Covered Bridge near Catawissa.

I had also previously missed the Covered Bridge in Briar Creek Lake Park near Berwick (and north of 80). I manged to accidentally photograph this one in black and white. Don’t ask.

Even More Bridges of Chester County

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 Glen Hope Covered Bridge.
The Rudolph Arthur Covered Bridge.
The Linton Stevens Covered Bridge.

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.

The Pine Grove Bridge,
Open to traffic, it is a well-maintained bridge.

I had to sneak in this shot in Oxford:

The view outside the Miss Oxford Diner. I liked the trains and cars in front of this old silo.

The final stop was in Lancaster County, because, well, it was nearby and ticks off another bridge.

Jackson’s Saw Mill Covered Bridge.

The Covered Bridges of French Creek

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.

Interesting that these bridges have white ends and red sides.

We come upon Kennedy Covered Bridge next.

The western most is Sheeder Hall Covered Bridge.

You have a good view of the side of this one and the creek.

The covered bridge saga continues next week.

The Bridges of Chester County, Part I

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 Mercer’s Mills covered bridge.
Horses hanging out at a nearby farm.

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 Bartram 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.

The Gibson Covered Bridge.
The Larkin Covered Bridge – sadly out of use, but it has a walking path nearby.