The History of Covered Bridges

watch_later Friday, May 18, 2018


Covered bridges are great historical pieces that are
Protected by law these days. In the United States,
there are at least 200 covered bridges registered
under the National Registry of Historic Places because
of their important role in a town’s or county’s
history.

Most of the covered bridges still being used today are
under the protection of the government and cannot be
easily demolished or reconstructed without the prior
permission of a local board set up to oversee the
maintenance and preservation of these historic land
Marks. Most of them were built in the early nineteenth
century when there was a huge movement of people from
coastal cities toward the interior of the country
where there are a lot of creeks, streams, and raging
Rivers. As towns developed, there was an apparent need
for people to be connected and thus covered bridges
were constructed.

But did you know that covered bridges’ history dates
Back at least two thousand years? There were ancient
covered bridges in China and even in Babylon 780 years
Before the birth of Christ. These ancient covered
bridges, according to written history, were more like
architectural masterpieces used to accentuate the
The landscape of imperial palaces and gardens. But they
also served a more practical purpose: covered bridges
were perfect for protecting palaces and important
places from being stormed by rebels or invading
Armies. Some ancient covered bridges were made of
stone and because of its walls and ceilings, were
perfect spots to hide from arrows and spears while
fighting.

In America, covered bridges first appeared in the
early part of the 1800’s. The first was built by
Theodore Burr in New York. His name is also being used
these days as a name of a truss usually used in
building covered bridges: the Burr truss. The bridge
spanned the Hudson River and was named the Waterford
Bridge.

Waterford lasted for over a hundred years but since
then the idea of covered bridges became more popular
and started to gain popularity in the western part of
The country. The first and second covered bridges in
recorded American history can be found in Oregon City
where they have become important infrastructures in
joining communities developing on both sides of the
River. They were eventually destroyed by heavy
flooding in 1853.

Aside from the beauty and practicality of covered
bridges, they were also a necessary move in ensuring
the economic development of towns and villages in
Early America. In the days before their
construction, ferries were the only ways to go around
Towns are developing on opposite sides of a river. Because
of the importance of connecting townspeople to
important places like schools, government offices, and
churches, ferries had the monopoly in transportation
and could charge people, especially people in business who
needed to move heavy loads of merchandise, absurd
amounts as they wanted.

That in turn created a demand from townspeople to the
local government asking them to build bridges. Since
financing the construction cost a lot, people
entertained the idea of protecting these bridges with
roofs and walls. Exposed wood can deteriorate quickly
when exposed to harsh weather conditions, and since it
was expensive to build bridges, taxpayers wanted them
to be protected. And that ushered in the era of
covered bridges in America.

Covered bridges also provided jobs for people in towns
Where they were built. And soon architects and
Carpenters were competing on innovative ideas. One
the idea was to make covered bridges look like barns as to
make livestock crossing it more comfortable, avoiding
dangerous stampedes common when forcing animals to
Cross rivers. Since the early 19th century, covered
bridges have slowly made its mark in towns’ history
and though it experienced a slow decline due to rapid
commercialization and the introduction of cement and
other modern building materials, covered bridges are
now considered to be historic pieces worth preserving.



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