A Historic Town

Christiana is a borough in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, United States. Present-day Christiana was once known as Nobleville. The present name is after Christiana Noble, the wife of a first settler. It is notable as the site of the Christiana railroad depot, constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In 1851, the town was the site of the Battle of Christiana, also called the Christiana riot. On September 11, 1851, Christiana was the site of the Battle of Christiana (also called the Christiana Riot), in which the local residents defended with firearms a fugitive slave, killing the slaveowner. Southerners demanded the hanging of those responsible, who were accused of treason and making war on the United States, but after the first defendant was acquitted, the government dropped the case. The trial was the first nationally covered challenge to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Today, the town is the sight of the Christiana Underground Railway Center.

Underground Railroad Center – hours are seasonal so check before heading out.

Some other views from the town and the surrounding area:

Some Different Animals at Middle Creek

A trip to Middle Creek in late summer led to some unexpected viewing. I went in search of a Hudsonian Godwit, but found something else entirely. First up was this group of horses, hitched to a fence with no riders in sight:

I then spied this wedding party (perhaps Mennonite?) near the visitors center.

An finally, that Hudsonian Godwit and some Canada Geese with an interloper Great Egret.

A County with Covered Bridges to Spare

The trek around Lancaster County’s to view its covered bridges continues. This post will contain looks at quite a few of the bridges in the western part of the county with some nearby views. First are pair of bridges that are quite close to each other.

Forry’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that spans Chiques Creek in West Hempfield. A county-owned and maintained bridge, its official designation is the Big Chiques #7 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. The bridge’s WGCB Number is 38-36-28. In 1980 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as structure number 80003512. Forry’s Mill Covered Bridge was originally built in 1869 by Elias McMellen for a cost of $2969. The bridge required repairs in 1925 to its sides and floor.

Its partner is Seigrist’s Mill Covered Bridge, an 88-foot (27 m), Burr Arch Truss covered bridge over Chiques Creek between Rapho and West Hempfield Townships. Owned and maintained by the county, its official designation is the Big Chiques #6 Bridge. The bridge’s World Guide to Covered Bridges Number is 38-36-37. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as structure number 80003513 in 1980. The bridge is less than a mile away from the Forry’s Mill Covered Bridge. The bridge was built in 1885 by James C. Carpenter. It was named after the Siegrist family who lived nearby.

Heading farther south, we come across a trio of bridges on Pequea Creek. The Colemanville Covered Bridge spans the Creek. After Hunsecker’s Mill Covered Bridge, it is Lancaster County’s second-longest single-span covered bridge still in use. It is also referred to as the Martic Forge Covered Bridge and Pequea #12 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. The bridge’s WGCB Number is 38-36-26. In 1980, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as structure number 80003534. The Colemanville Covered Bridge was originally built in 1856 by James C. Carpenter at a cost of $2,244. After being damaged twice by flooding, it was partially rebuilt in 1938 by Edmund Gardner and in 1973 by David Esh. Lancaster county completely rebuilt the bridge in 1992 for $350,000. During the restoration process the bridge was raised by 6 feet (1.8 m) and moved west a few feet to protect it from damage in potential future flooding.

Baumgardener’s Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that also spans Pequea Creek. A county-owned and maintained bridge, its official designation is the Pequea #10 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. The bridge’s WGCB Number is 38-36-25. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 11, 1980. Baumgardener’s Covered Bridge was built in 1860 by Davis Kitch at a cost of $1,284. In 1987 the bridge was restored after it was damaged in a flood the previous year. During this restoration process, which cost $200,000, the bridge was raised by 4 feet (1.2 m) and lengthened by 9 feet (2.7 m) to protect it from damage in potential future flooding.

Finally, we come to Lime Valley Covered Bridge, which spans Pequea Creek. A county-owned and maintained bridge, its official designation is the Pequea #8 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.

The bridge’s WGCB Number is 38-36-23. Added in 1980, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as structure number 80003535. It was built in 1871 by either Joseph Cramer or Elias McMellen at a cost of $3,500. The bridge was a twin to another covered bridge built in 1857 by Silas Wolverton that was located 200 ft (61 m) to the west of the Lime Valley Covered Bridge.

Lancaster County Spring

Before we head to western Pennsylvania, let’s take a look at some shots from a nice Spring day in Lancaster County. It was a good day for photography, the sun was shining and the cows seemed happy.

This shot and following one are the same farm.

Celebrating the Lancaster County Buggy

A day out in the rural areas of Lancaster County will provide many encounters with horse drawn buggies, whether in motion or stationery. Sundays tend to be particularly busy, with people going to church or visiting neighbors.

A small child looks on …
Traffic Gap with a miniature of the Clock Tower (full size below).
People who drive buggies need to shop too. Stores in the area often have hitches, or even simple open sheds, for horse parking.

Northern Lancaster County Covered Bridges

Today’s visit to Lancaster County includes some covered bridged and nearby views. First up is Weaver’s Mill Covered Bridge, which spans the Conestoga River. The 85-foot-long (26 m), 15-foot-wide (4.6 m) bridge was built in 1878 by B. C. Carter and J. F. Stauffer. It is also known as Isaac Shearer’s Mill Bridge. The bridge has a single span, wooden, double Burr arch trusses design with the addition of steel hanger rods. 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 the traditional white color. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Weaver’s Mill Covered Bridge

The Bitzer’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that is also on the Conestoga River. It is the oldest bridge in the county still in use. A county-owned and maintained bridge, it is also called Martin’s Mill Bridge, Eberly’s Cider Mill Covered Bridge, and Fiand’s/Fiantz’s 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. Added later, secondary steel I-beams support the bridge from underneath. The bridge is currently unpainted. It was formerly painted red on the outside, and the inside of the bridge was not painted. Both approaches to the bridge were painted white. In July 2006, the bridge sustained some damage to its sides including some missing or broken panels. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

The bridge was built in 1846 by George Fink and Sam Reamsnyder at a cost of $1,115. They used a single span, wooden, double Burr arch truss construction. The bridge has historically been referred to by a number of names that reflected the various mill owners. In 1962, it was proposed to replace the bridge with a concrete span, but the plan was discontinued after much public outcry.

The Conestoga River
An impressive corn crib.

The Keller’s Mill Covered Bridge is a covered bridge that spans Cocalico Creek. It is also sometimes known as Guy Bard Covered Bridge (after a local jurist) and Rettew’s Covered Bridge (after the person that Rettew’s Road is named). Due to heavy road traffic on the aging, one-lane bridge, construction on a new steel and concrete bridge to bypass the covered bridge occurred in the summer of 2006. The bridge was disassembled and reassembled a few miles downstream to replace an existing one lane bridge. It was located at 40°10′11.4″N 76°12′16.8″W (40.16983, −76.20467) before being disassembled.

Keller’s Mill Covered Bridge was originally built by Elias McMellen in 1873 at a cost of US$2,075. After being swept away in flooding, the bridge was rebuilt in 1891, again by McMellen. It stayed there until it was disassembled and moved in 2006. The bridge was reconstructed in 2009. The bridge was reopened on Middle Creek Road in December, 2010. Keller’s Mill Covered 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. The bridge is the only all white bridge in the county, with no red. In fact, just about all covered bridges were whitewashed both inside and out. It is the only bridge to have survived the transition from whitewashing to the red color commonly used in barns throughout the county. The bridge is not painted on the inside.

The Ephrata Cloister

The Ephrata Cloister or Ephrata Community was a religious community, established in 1732 by Johann Conrad Beissel at Ephrata, Lancaster County. The grounds of the community are now owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The Cloister’s website can be found at https://ephratacloister.org and provides the following information:

Conrad Beissel, Ephrata’s founder, came to the site in 1732 seeking to live as a hermit following his own religious ideas. He believed earthly life should be spent preparing to achieve a spiritual union with God at the Second Coming he felt would soon occur. By the early 1750s, nearly 80 celibate Brothers and Sisters were housed in impressive Germanic log, stone, and half-timbered buildings. At the same time, nearly 200 family members known as Householders, occupied nearby homes and farms.

Celibate members followed a life of work balanced with hours of private prayer. Wearing white robes, they adopted sparse diets, and slept little, all in an effort to provide discipline as they prepared for an anticipated heavenly existence. Labors included farming, papermaking, carpentry, milling, and textile production. The Cloister was known for the German calligraphic art of Frakturschriften, created in a distinctive style considered the first of this folk art produced in America, self-composed a cappella music written using Beissel’s rules for four-part harmony (with over one-thousand original compositions), and an ambitious printing establishment creating works for the use of the community and neighbors, including the translation and publication of the 1500 page Martyrs Mirror for the Mennonites, the largest book printed in colonial America.

The Society declined after the death of the charismatic Beissel in 1768. The last celibate member died in 1813 and the next year the remaining Householders incorporated into the German Seventh Day Baptist Church. Members continued to live and worship in the Cloister buildings until the close of the Church in 1934. Marie Kachel Bucher, the last surviving resident of the Ephrata Cloister, died on July 27, 2008, at the age of 98.

Here is a look at the exterior of the buildings. There was an event going on that Day called “Charter Day” which was wrapping up as I was arriving in late afternoon.

Historic Poole Forge

It’s not that often that one comes across a covered bridge with an associated historic site. Poole Forge, in Eastern Lancaster County, is just such a place. The 26-acre site also has a preserved historic Ironmaster’s mansion, children’s playground, picnic pavilion, ball field, Nature Trail, Riparian Buffers, wildflower meadows, and many beautiful gardens along the Conestoga River. It is a national historic district and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

Poole Forge was part of the iron industry in Lancaster and nearby counties. James Old, a Welshman and iron master, purchased the property in 1775. He established and operated a forge here for twenty years. The pig iron was obtained from nearby furnaces such as Hopewell, Joanna, Elizabeth, and Cornwall. Poole Forge refined the iron, then sold it to blacksmiths, or sent it to markets in Philadelphia, where it was used to make armaments for the Revolutionary War. In 1795, he sold the forge to his son, Davis Old, and over the next half century, it continued operation through many changes of hands. In 1852, iron production was ended. The covered bridge dates to 1859.

First up are views of the covered bridge:

There are multiple fine Federal style buildings at this site.

A view of the Conestoga River.

Another Lancaster County Covered Bridge

The Leaman’s Place Covered Bridge spans Pequea Creek. A county-owned and maintained bridge, it is also known as Eshelman’s Mill Covered Bridge and Paradise Bridge. The bridge has a single span and a wooden, double Burr arch truss 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 the traditional white color. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The land that the Leaman’s Place Covered Bridge is situated on was settled by the family of Mary Ferree in 1712, a land grant by William Penn in an area inhabited by the Pequaws Indians. It was not until 1845 that James C. Carpenter built the covered bridge across the Pequea Creek at a cost of $933. In 1893. Elias McMellan rebuilt the covered bridge at a cost of $2,431. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2004.

Pequea Creek

And for something different … Dutch Haven, a well known landmark on Route 30 with a great bakery and gift shop.