724.587.3763

Visit the (covered) bridges of Washington County during your Weatherbury Farm Stay

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"Pine Bank Bridge at Meadowcroft Museum of Rural Life" photo by J.R. Orr

A visit to Weatherbury Farm is a great time to explore Washington County's 23 covered bridges.  Most are over a century old and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the third weekend in September, the annual Covered Bridge Festival is held.

Weatherbury Farm's "Pocket Book of Directions" includes directions to nine nearby bridges. A Washington County Covered Bridge Handbook is also available for our farm guests during their explorations. (The Washington County Covered Bridge Handbook can be obtained from the Washington County Tourist Promotion Agency @ 1-800-531-4114.)

218 covered bridges remain standing in Pennsylvania. The first covered bridge was built in Philadelphia by Timothy Palmer. Most bridges were build between 1820 and  the end of the 19th century.

A common nickname for these treasures are the "Kissin' Bridges", derived from the exploits of young male suitors to steal a kiss from their sweethearts.  There are several wife's tales as to the reason bridges were built with a cover, including safeguarding livestock when crossing the water or scaring off evil spirits.  However, the real reason bridges were covered was to preserve the deck from the environment. Wooden bridges with exposed superstructures are vulnerable to rot. Covering and roofing them protects them from the weather, and they last longer.

Why are there some many wooden bridges? And why especially in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Northeast?

In 1800, the northeastern United States was a co8untry in need of bridges. it is a fairly narrow coastal plain cut by many short rivers and creeks. In the "tidewater" region, these little streams and the great estuaries such as the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays had been highways and lifelines. But now the population was surging beyond the tidewater region, drawn both by the growth of agriculture and the call of water-powered industrialization. Inland farmers need overland transport, and that meant fords of bridges. But the water-powered mills sought out the very places where streams could not be forded -- the falls and rapids -- and they too needed transportation.

So bridges were needed. The American northeast was forest country; wood was a plentiful building material, especially in the remote areas where the smaller bridges were needed. An the climate favored wooden construction. The climate of the region is harsh, by European standards -- hot in the summer and icy in the winter, with a freeze-thaw cycle that would overturn stone pavings. But this sort of climate is less destructive of wood than the mild, moist climate of Britain (or Oregon). So wooden bridges there would be .

The young United States had one other necessary ingredient in plenty; ingenuity. Timothy Wood, Lewis Wernwag, Theodore Burr, Menander Wood and the rest were just as essential as the material and the need. Without them, there would be not historic covered bridges.

As we enjoy our heritage, we honor the memory of those agile minds who created it.

 

Home       About Weatherbury Farm      Lodging       Activities       Media Accolades
Availability on line       Brochure      News       Contact us

Area Attractions

Weatherbury Farm
1061 Sugar Run Road
Avella, Pennsylvania 15312

phone: (724) 587-3763

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(Our email address is info@weatherburyfarm.com and we do answer all emails -- if you don't hear back from us, either your email or our answer has been lost in cyber space.)

www.weatherburyfarm.com

a kid friendly family farm stay vacation destination; far from the madding crowd, in the country, just 45 minutes southwest of Pittsburgh, PA -- fun & educational

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