An Au Naturel Covered Bridge

Knapp’s Covered Bridge is a Burr arch truss covered bridge over Brown’s Creek in Burlington Township, Bradford County. It was built in 1853 and is 95 feet (29.0 m) long. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and had a major restoration starting in 2000. Knapp’s Bridge is named for a local family, and is also known by as the Luther’s Mills Covered Bridge (for the nearby village of Luther’s Mills) and as the Brown’s Creek Covered Bridge.

The surrounding countryside also provides some nice sightseeing, like this pretty church with its barn across the road and the nearby farmland.

Nice barn star and flag.

Berks Perks

Berks County is the home to a few covered bridges and some very picturesque spots. Greisemer Covered Bridge is one of few I have seen with a hex sign. The oak design is one of my favorite hex signs. Here are a few views of the bridge. You will note the common Burr arch truss design.

A lovely church property stands between the two bridges featured in this blog. This is Salem United Church of Christ in Oley and its churchyard. The view toward the hills beyond is really lovely.

A nice view with the farm in back.
These cows were across the road from the church.
The Pleasantville Covered Bridge

The Pleasantville Covered Bridge is on more busy stretch of the appropriately named Covered Bridge Road and more difficult to photograph. As a white bridge, it provides a nice contrast with the red Greisemer Bridge. It is interesting that, although I see barn stars everywhere, I tend to see hex signs more often in Berks County.

Headed home, I came across this fantastic barn with hex signs.
Looks like soybean at this farm.

A Few Covered Bridges Then Home

Lycoming County has a total of four covered bridges. I visited two of them on my way home from Potter County.

The Buttonwood Bridge (also known as the Blockhouse Bridge) was built in 1898 with the structure spanning Blockhouse Creek. It uses a queen post with king post truss and is 74 feet 2 inches (22.6 m) long. The bridge is in good condition with a new wood shingled roof and pressure treated floor. The structure is open to traffic all year long. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and had a major restoration in 1998. It is the shortest and most heavily used of the three covered bridges remaining in Lycoming County.

A couple of looks inside the bridge.
An interesting sawmill operation near the bridge.
Very nice looking barn.
Anther pretty barn shot.

The next bridge to the south was the Cogan House Bridge. This bridge was built in 1877 of the Burr Arch design with a structure length of 94 feet crossing Larry’s Creek. Cogan House bridge is open to traffic, and leads to a dead end private drive near the game lands. The bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and had a major restoration in 1998. The Cogan House bridge is named for the township and village of Cogan House, and is also known by at least four other names: Buckhorn, Larrys Creek, Day’s, and Plankenhorn.

The Cogan House Covered Bridge was constructed by a millwright who assembled the timber framework in a field next to the sawmill, before it was reassembled at the bridge site. It was the only bridge on Larrys Creek that survived the flood of June 1889, and one of only a handful that were left intact in the county. Although the bridge used to carry a steady flow of tannery and sawmill traffic, the clearcutting of the surrounding forests meant the end of those industries by the early 20th century.

The route to the bridge.
The other side.
A look inside.
Cattle on a hill en route to the bridge.

A Unique Ecosystem

Nestled in southwest Chester County near the Maryland line are several patches of a unique ecosystem called serpentine barrens. One example is found at Nottingham County Park. Dedicated in September 1963, Nottingham Park was the first Chester County park. The 731-acre park sits atop an outcropping of serpentine stone greater than one square mile in size – one of the largest serpentine barrens on the East Coast. It features former feldspar and serpentine quarries, and numerous former chromite ore mines. The National Park Service recognized Nottingham Park as a National Natural Landmark in 2008.

Nottingham Park offers nine pavilions, an 18-station fitness trail, and three modern, handicapped accessible playgrounds. To experience the serpentine barrens, one must wander around some of the trails in the park.

Serpentine, a geological outcrop of rare, light-green rock found only in three small geographic areas in all of North America, has soil so low in essential nutrients and so high in some metals that most ordinary plants will not grow. The barrens have their own community of plants, some of them globally-rare, with practically no species in common with the surrounding forests and fields. Typically, serpentine barrens contain scrub oak, pine, cedar and unique wildflowers. Some areas dominated by grasses are known as true prairies. Some areas with scattered trees are known as a savannah, which can survive and prosper with occasional fires.

Here are some views looking towards the serpentine barrens.
Adorable mini covered bridge next to a pond.

A Northern Visitor

The presence of a snowy owl in the area causes great excitement. Even the local news take notice. A bird in eastern Lancaster County recently created the expected onslaught of birders. I set out one Saturday to have a look as well. Note to self: don’t go looking for an owl without your “good” camera.

The bird was close to the road but not in front of the most photogenic backdrop. The online consensus is that it is a “she,” but I’m not sure how you tell juveniles from females.

On a porch roof.
Grainy close up courtesy of phone camera.
Is the bird thinking “There are so many, but are they edible?”
One of the benefits of an owl on your porch roof is that everyone can see your laundry drying.
The farm across the road.
The area is full of lovely farms.
The hay obsession continues. This is quite a pile.
Horses had clearly been using this hitching post at Hayloft Ice Cream.
The Willows Covered Bridge along busy Route 30. Probably one of the saddest covered bridges in the state.

Adams County Beyond Gettysburg

Adams County is home to four covered bridges. A visit to the bridges provides a focus for a drive outside Gettysburg for visitors to the area. As usual, covered bridges look best to me in Autumn.

The first up the Anderson Farm Covered Bridge. The builder of this bridge is unknown, the length is 79 ft., and the width is 14 ft. The bridge appears to be in very good shape and closed to all traffic. The bridge is used for storage by the present owners of the property This structure originally spanned Mud creek. It was moved to the point where it is today by a farmer named Anderson.

Heikes Covered Bridge is located approximately 2.5 miles north of Heidlersburg, between Tyrone and Huntington Township. The structure was built in 1892 and uses the Burr truss, and the builder is unknown. The bridge crosses Bermudian Creek and is 67 ft. long and 14 ft. wide. The bridge is not open to any traffic and is located on private land.

Jack’s Mountain Bridge is located on State Route 3021, Jack’s Mountain Rd., approximately 1.5 miles south west of Fairfield in Hamiltonban Township. The bridge was built in 1890 by Joseph Smith using the Burr truss. The structure is 75 ft. long and 14 ft. wide and crosses Tom’s Creek. The state owns this bridge, and it is open to all traffic. This is the only bridge in Adams County that is opened to vehicular traffic. The bridge has a red light at each end to control the traffic flow on this one lane structure.

Finally, the Sachs Covered Bridge is very near Gettysburg National Military Park. It is located on Twp. Route 405, Pumping Station Road, in Freedom Township, just south of State Route 305 and west of the Eisenhauer National Historic site and and Gettysburg National Military Park. The bridge was built in 1854 by David Spooner using the Town truss and and utilizing one span. The structure is 100 ft. long and 15 ft. wide, and it is only open to foot traffic. The bridge crosses Marsh Creek and is owned by Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association.

The bridge was known as Sauck’s during the Civil War, it was built using oak and pine. The bridge was repaired in 1997 after heavy rains washed the bridge from it’s foundation and carried it approximately one hundred yards downstream.

On July 3rd and 4th, 1863 , the bridge was used by a portion of the Confederate army, in retreat out of Gettysburg, but is said to have been used by both armies during the time of the Gettysburg conflict. Robert E. Lee had split his army into 2 sections, with one headed to Northwest toward Cashtown, while the other crossed Sauck’s Bridge and headed Southwest. The bridge is known to have been the site of a triple hanging at one end, and in close proximity to a crude post battle field hospital, the Sauck’s Covered Bridge is a favorite of ghost hunters.

What do you think they are talking about?
Out fishing on a Fall day.

A bonus location is the historic Round Barn and Farmer’s Market on Cashtown Road, which I have featured on this blog before. While at the market, I picked up some delicious apple cider, cider donuts, and fresh apples. The market features many kinds of apples which are difficult to find.

The view across the road.

Franklin’s Covered Bridges

Franklin County, Pennsylvania is home to two covered bridges. It was great to seem them in the Autumn, which is the Commonwealth’s best season (in my opinion. of course).

First up is the Martins Mill or Shindle Bridge which is reported to be the longest remaining Town truss covered bridge in Pennsylvania. It was reconstructed after the Hurricane Agnes flood of 197, but it is now closed to all traffic. It is still open to foot and bike trail users. The bridge was built in 1839 by Jacob Shirk. The length is 207 ft. with a width of 16 ft.. it crosses Conococheague Creek in Franklin County.

One the way to this bridge, I spotted some interesting cattle:

The Witherspoon Covered Bridge is the second covered bridge in Franklin County. The bridge was built in 1883 by S. Stouffer. It utilizes the Burr Truss in its construction. The bridge’s length is 87 ft., and the width is 14 ft. it crosses Licking Creek in Montgomery Township.

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.