Just a Few Lancaster County Covered Bridges

This post features a quick series of covered bridges in northwestern Lancaster County, the home of the largest number of covered bridges in the state. The first up is Schenk’s Mill Covered Bridge (or Shenk’s Mill Covered Bridge). It is a covered bridge that spans Big Chiques Creek. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks. It is painted red and both approaches to the bridge are painted white. It is one of only 3 covered bridges in the county with horizontal side boards. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built in 1847 by Charles Malhorn and Levi Fink. It was rebuilt in 1855 and is 80 feet long.

Shenk’s Mill Covered Bridge

The Shearer’s Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that also spans Big Chiques Creek. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design. It is the only covered bridge in the county painted entirely in red in Lancaster County, on both the inside and outside, including both approaches. The other all red bridge, Pool Forge Covered Bridge, is only painted on the outside. It is one of only 3 covered bridges in the county with horizontal side boards. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built in 1847 by Jacob Clare. It was rebuilt in 1855 and stayed its original location until it was moved in 1971 to its present location in the Manheim Memorial Park. It is 86 feet long.

Shearer’s Mill Covered Bridge

The Pinetown Bushong’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that spans the Conestoga River. The bridge is also known as the Pinetown Amish Covered Bridge, Pinetown Covered Bridge, Nolte’s Point Mill Bridge and Bushong’s Mill Bridge.

The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built in 1867 by Elias McMellen at a cost of $4,500. In 1972, it was destroyed as a result of flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes. Due to a tremendous response of area residents who signed a petition for its reconstruction, it was among the first covered bridges to be restored after Agnes. In the spring of 1973, the bridge was rebuilt by the nearby Amish. To prevent damage due to future flooding, they raised the bridge to 17 feet 6 inches above the average water line. Lititz Run joins the Conestoga River at this site. It is 124 feet long.

Pinetown Amish Covered Bridge

The Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge, or Sporting Hill Bridge, is a covered bridge that spans Chiques Creek. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks.

It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge was originally built in 1857 at a cost of $1,185 by James C. Carpenter. The bridge was named after the Kauffman’s Distillery Mill which operated in the late 1800s. In 1874, the bridge was rebuilt by Elias McMellen at a cost of $1,620. It is 84 feet long.

Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge

Hunsecker’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design. The bridge, which spans the Conestoga River, is 180 feet long, making it the longest single span covered bridge in the county. The original bridge was built in 1843 by John Russell at a cost of $1,988. It is a double Burr Arch truss system. It has been swept away in flooding numerous times, most recently in 1972 after Hurricane Agnes. Waters lifted the original structure off its abutments and carried it downstream. In 1973, following destruction from the hurricane, it was rebuilt at a cost of $321,302. While Schenck’s covered bridge is one of 3 bridges with horizontal siding boards, the Hunsecker’s Mill bridge may be the only one in Lancaster County with horizontal floor boards which give a unique vibration upon crossing. A detailed scale model (~7′ long), complete with stone abutments, was donated to the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and may be available for viewing.

Hunsecker’s Mill Covered Bridge

Erb’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that spans Hammer Creek. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The bridge was originally built in 1849 for a cost of $700. It was built on the Erb family’s tract of land in the farming region along Hammer Creek. In 1887 the bridge was rebuilt by John G. Bowman for $1744. It is 70 feet long.

Erb’s Mill Covered Bridge

The Bucher’s Mill Covered Bridge (or Butcher’s Mill Covered Bridge) is a covered bridge that spans Cocalico Creek. After the Landis Mill Covered Bridge, it is the second shortest covered bridge in the county. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks.

It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Bucher’s Mill Covered Bridge was built in 1891 by Elias McMellen, using single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss construction, at a cost of $1167. A year later, in 1892, the bridge was damaged heavily in a flood and was rebuilt by McMellen for $1025. At only 64 feet long, it is one of the shortest covered bridges in Lancaster County.

Bucher’s Mill Covered Bridge

Looking on the Brightside

In 1996, Charlestown Township in Chester County purchased 20 acres of the Brightside Farm located to preserve it from impending development. The Township added 55 additional acres to Brightside Farm Park with the purchase of the rest of the farm with the help of a significant grant from Chester County in the year 2000. The farm is preserved as an agricultural asset for the residents to enjoy, and a portion of the property is under a conservation easement with the French & Pickering Creeks Trust. The park offers over 50 garden plots to township residents and has walking trails.

A view of the barn.
And another …
Near by farmhouse and barn.

A feature in the Park is the Wisner Rapp House. Jacob Wisner House, also known as the Rapp House, is a historic home that was built in two sections. The older section dates to 1761, and is a 2 1/1-story, three bay wide, stone structure. A two bay wide extension was added in the 1840s. The addition was originally built to house a saddle and harness-maker’s shop and later housed the Sidley Post Office.

The Wisner-Rapp House

Finally, a look around the neighboring area …

A Detour to the North, Part III

My travels this October finally led me into the province of Quebec. My trip included an unexpected detour to the town of Saguenay and ended in Quebec City. My best views of fall foliage were in Quebec, as you will see below. First up is La Baie, where my cruise ship was docked near Saguenay. This area has also has a lovely national park and one of the few fjords on the east coast of North America.

I spent a short time in Quebec City before flying home.

Rue St. Anne
Statue of Champlain
UNESCO monument, lower center
Chateau Frontenac
Public Art
There are those fall colors.

A Detour to the North, Part II

While in New England and Canada, I took a day trip to the popular village of Peggy’s Cove. This tourist attractions is a quaint Nova Scotia fishing village with one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada.

Finally, here a some photos of Georges Island National Historic Site in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A Little French Flair

French Azilum is Located on a horseshoe bend in the Susquehanna River near present-day town of Wysox. It provided a refuge for a group of French exiles in the autumn of 1793 and spring of 1794. Some of the refugees left France to escape persecution during the French Revolution. Others fled the colony of Santo Domingo (Haiti) to escape the slave uprising there. The French refugees, mostly nobility and gentry, even believed that it might be possible for the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, and her two children to come to Azilum if they got out of France alive. In the plans of the settlement there was a house built for the queen, called La Grand Maison.

A consortium of investors in Philadelphia purchased sixteen hundred acres of land from the English and German settlers to establish Azilum. They also purchased several thousand additional acres in subsequent years, extending south into Sullivan County and north nearly to the border of New York. Eventually 50 houses would be built. Although not grand, these houses had chimneys, wallpaper, window glass, shutters and porches. La Grand Maison, the most imposing structure, was the setting of many of the social gatherings, and housed Talleyrand and Louis Phillippe (future King of France) as guests.

The duration of the sophisticated French town in the wilderness was brief. Economic factors, including the bankruptcy of its investors, led to the settlement’s decline. By the late 1790’s many of the French had moved to southern cities or returned to Santo Domingo. In 1803 Napoleon made it possible for the exiles to return to France. A few families, including the LaPortes, remained. These families and their descendants helped to settle nearby communities. None of the almost 100 buildings from Azilum, including houses, a chapel, a theatre and several shops, remain.

Today, the historic site contains over twenty acres that were part of the original settlement. Although no structures from the original settlement survive, an original foundation has been left exposed for public viewing . A reconstructed and relocated log cabin, circa 1790, serves as a small museum with artifacts pertaining to the settlement and a video about the establishment of Azilum. The LaPorte house, the summer home of the son of one of the original settlers, still stands. Visitors can see several outbuildings, part of the de Siebert and LaPorte Farms, and outdoor exhibits. The site is only open during the summer. One should check opening times before visiting.

The LaPorte House

The house was built in 1836 by John LaPorte, son of Bartholomew LaPorte, who was one of the principal settlers at Azilum.

Structures adjacent to the LaPorte House
The Museum Cabin

A Route With a View

Bradford County is home to a unique historical site in north central Pennsylvania. However, I first made my way west over Route 6 to take in some impressive views.

First up is Wyalusing Rocks Overlook, which stands above one of the many bends in the Susquehanna River in this area.

A westward view …
and two.

A little further west, one comes upon the Marie Antoinette Overlook. The reason for this name will become apparent in my next post. The Overlook sits approximately 500 feet above the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. It was originally built in 1930 as a part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration).

A view west along another bend in the river.
The plaque explains the reason for the name of the overlook.
This is one of the more developed overlooks in state.
The view in the opposite direction.
The historic site below is blocked by the trees.

A Dam Long Way Around, Part I

On Sunday of Juneteenth weekend, I spent the day checking out a few additional state parks in the Coudersport area along with one historic site. I headed southwest to the remains of the Austin Dam.

The Austin Dam, also known as the Bayless Dam, was a concrete gravity dam in the Austin, Pennsylvania area that served the Bayless Pulp and Paper Mill. Built in 1909, It was the largest dam of its type in Pennsylvania at the time. The catastrophic failure of the dam on September 30, 1911 caused significant destruction and the death of 78 in Freeman Run Valley below the dam. The dam failed because it was not built as designed to cut cost.

The paper mill and dam were subsequently rebuilt, but the mill was lost in a fire in 1933. A new dam was built, but it also failed, in 1942, with no loss of life. The dam was not replaced after the second failure. The remains of the failed first dam still stand and are the site of a local park. The ruins consist of a series of broken sections extending east to west across the Freeman Run Valley. There are five upright sections and two large and several smaller toppled sections. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

There is a small park here. It is also possible to camp here. As I am slightly freaked out by dams and given the history, I don’t think I could camp here.

The remaining sections of original dam are clearly visible.
A small park at the base of the dam.
Remembering those who died …
A view to the dam from the access road.
A view of Freeman Run. It’s hard to imagine such a small stream could cause so much damage.

Here is a look at some places in Austin today.

Love the name of this bar.

A Preserved Farm … and a Park

Springton Manor Farm is a county park located in Glenmoore, Chester County. Within the farm’s historic landscape of fenced fields, stone walls and misty morning vistas is a preserved patchwork of colonial plantation, Industrial Revolution era scientific farm, Victorian tenant farm, and gentleman’s country estate. The Manor House and Carriage House overlook 300 acres of centuries-old sugar maples, open pastures and stately Penn Oaks, which grace the lower pond. The Manor House is not open to the general public.

Initially part of a William Penn Manor, Springton Manor has been in agricultural use since the early 1700’s. On this demonstration farm, you can meet the animals and learn about Chester County’s farming history. The barn complex consists of the Great Barn, sheep shed, goat shed, a roost and equipment shed. You may see horses, donkeys, rabbits, calves, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and peacocks. The Family Farm Museum, located within the Great Barn, contains seasonal tools and apparatus used on Chester County farms from the 1700’s to the 1900’s.

The Manor House
A view to the Great Barn
Additional buildings near the Great Barn
Interesting structure. Not sure what it is …
Can you see the house finch? They were nesting in crevices in the stone walls.
Another building with a star …

A Drive Around Hibernia County Park and Chambers Lake

A trip to Chambers Lake looking for some Trumpeter Swans didn’t yield any birds, but an assemblage of photographs (as usual). I did get to see some sections of Hibernia County Park that I don’t normally get a chance to visit.

A nice father and son scene at the Lake but no swans.
The back of the barn near the mansion.
A view from the Lake Campground out onto Chambers Lake.
A great stand of oaks in the Lake Campground.
Some interesting fallen branches with last Autumn’s leaves near Fiddlers Campground.

The Goshenville Wetlands

Adjacent to the Goshenville Blacksmith Shop is the Goshenville Wetlands, a nice place for a short walk and a dog friendly area. It is located in East Goshen Township, which lies in northeastern Chester County. Here are some early Spring photos of the wetlands and the nearby historic structures.

The first thing you notice from the parking area is the honey bee project. The Bees by the Blacksmith Shop is a public-private partnership that brought honey producing hives to this open space. The Watermark at Bellingham Senior Living sponsored the hives, and Carmen B’s Honey, a Township-based small business, manages and maintain the bees. The Watermark will introduce apiary education to its residents and begin using the honey in its recipes and cooking classes. The Township was also set to begin a youth apiary program. In 2022, a kids program complete with youth-sized beekeeper outfits so they can safely get close and see the inner workings of the hives will be started.

The walk provides open views over the wetland with a dry walkway and elevated platforms and walks over potentially damp areas. There is a nice view of Ridley Creek which runs along side the property.

The historic structures are adjacent to this area and are connected via the walking path. The Goshenville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. The Blacksmith Shop was built in 1840 and is open to the public two days a week from April through October. An image of the shop is a symbol of East Goshen Township.

The Milton/Hickman Plank House in the foreground and the Blacksmith Shop beyond.
The front of the Blacksmith Shop …
and the back.