We’ve compiled a list of some of the must-visit covered bridges across the commonwealth. We’ve profiled a range of bridges based on location, interesting bridge characteristics, and other things to do in the surrounding area.
Covered bridges may seem like nothing more than charming relics of simpler times, but throughout the 19th century, these bridges were marvels of civil engineering. At one point, there were more than 14,000 covered bridges standing tall across the American landscape, their fully enclosed structures designed to protect the wooden bridges from the elements. Today, there are likely no more than 600 covered bridges in the U.S. These surviving bridges are a testament to the feat of engineering it was to build a covered bridge.
Pennsylvania has the most covered bridges still standing of any state; there are more than 200 of these historic structures within our borders. Some of them are meant to merely be admired by visitors, while others are still functioning bridges!
We’ve compiled a list of some of the must-visit covered bridges across the commonwealth. We’ve profiled a range of bridges based on location, interesting bridge characteristics, and other things to do in the surrounding area. After you’ve visited the ones on our list, go and seek out some more: after all, there are hundreds of bridges in the state, and they can be found in more than half of Pennsylvania’s counties.
The Oldest Bridge in Pennsylvania: Hassenplug Bridge, Mifflinburg
This Union County bridge in the center of the state is the oldest covered bridge that still remains in Pennsylvania, having been built in 1825 in what is now Mifflinburg. In fact, the Hassenplug Bridge is nearly the oldest covered bridge in the U.S., second only to a New York bridge that was built in the same year.
What’s more, the 197-year-old bridge allows vehicular traffic. So yes, you can drive across the oldest bridge in Pennsylvania.
To deter hooligans, the bridge had a sign reading: “Any person riding or driving at any other gait than a walk, or driving more than 15 head of cattle, or carrying fire in any way over this bridge is subjected to a fine of Thirty Dollars.” It’s unclear if the fine still stands, but try to stay at a gait or slower for good measure.
A Bridge in a State Park: Schofield Ford Covered Bridge, Newtown
This covered bridge is located in Tyler State Park in Bucks County. While closed to vehicular traffic, the bridge is part of a bridle trail, so you can wander across it via horse or cross by foot while on a hike.
The current bridge is the second at the site; the original, built in 1873, was destroyed by arson in 1991. That’s the thing about wooden bridges—they easily go up in flames, and arson is a major cause of covered bridges’ dwindling numbers. Yet they also inspire neighborly support. More than 800 community volunteers put in the work to rebuild the Schofield Ford Covered Bridge, which is unique in the face that its all-Pennsylvania timber is unpainted.
The Schofield Ford Covered Bridge is part of the Bucks County self-guided driving tour of the county’s 12 remaining bridges. The tour loop should take about a day, assuming you spend some time visiting the cute, historic downtowns of Bucks County!
A Bridge with a Festival: Ebenezer Bridge, Nottingham Township
The Ebenezer Bridge is a favorite of Washington County’s 23 covered bridges because of its central location as part of Washington County and Greene County’s yearly Covered Bridge Festival. The festival kicks off the third weekend of September and celebrates the region’s covered bridges with arts and crafts sellers, entertainment, historical reenactments, and lots of food. A visit to the bright red Ebenezer Bridge would ideally be combined with a trip to the festival, where one can stroll across the Mingo Creek by way of the bridge. On non-festival days, you can also drive over this bridge.
The Ebenezer Bridge is also part of one of Washington County’s self-guided covered bridge driving tours. (Because there are so many bridges in Washington—the second most of any PA county—there are three self-guided tours to choose from.) You can travel through the rural countryside of Washington County and imagine what it was like to drive over one of these bridges via horse and buggy.
A Bridge in Pennsylvania Dutch Country: Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge, Atglen
Many of Pennsylvania’s covered bridges can be found dotting the countryside of what’s traditionally known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where German and Swiss immigrants known as the Pennsylvania Dutch largely settled. Lancaster County, home to the largest population of Amish in the U.S., also has the most covered bridges of any county in Pennsylvania: 27! You may see Amish folks traveling by traditional horse and buggy to cross some of Lancaster’s covered bridges.
Be sure to check out Discover Lancaster’s several self-guided driving tours. Not only can you follow the map to see these scenic structures, you can also learn about each one, including Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge. This bridge was built in 1880 and connects Lancaster and Chester Counties over the Octoraro Creek.
If you’re tired of guiding yourself on your covered-bridge tours, you can join a group to explore Lancaster County’s covered bridges. Tour by motorized scooter with Strasburg Scooters, or if you’re a cyclist, register for the Covered Bridge Classic, an annual bike ride that takes you through the countryside by way of many covered bridges.
The Bridge in a City: Thomas Mill Covered Bridge, Philadelphia
Though Thomas Mill Covered Bridge is technically located in Philadelphia, making it the only remaining covered bridge in the U.S. that’s located in a major metropolitan area, it crosses a creek in a scenic area that feels far removed from the urban jungle.
You can visit the bridge in Wissahickon Valley Park, a large urban park in the northwestern part of the city, and join the many walkers, runners, and cyclists that use it to cross Wissahickon Creek.
The Longest Bridge in PA: Academia Pomeroy Covered Bridge, Beale Township
This bridge in Juniata County is the longest of all the bridges that still remain in Pennsylvania. The Academia Pomeroy Covered Bridge is nearly a football field in length—278 feet long! Though it’s closed to vehicular traffic, you can still stroll across the bridge over the Tuscarora Creek. When you do, be sure to sign the visitor’s log that’s waiting for you in the center of the bridge.
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