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Ohio’s Lost Covered Bridges

Ohio’s Lost Covered Bridges

Ohio’s Lost Covered Bridges

Covered bridges have been around since ancient times.
In Babylon, some 780 years before the birth of Christ,
people have used the practicality of covered bridges
in their lives by using roofs and ceilings to protect
important bridges from the deteriorating effects of
the weather. They also served a militaristic purpose
as covered bridges are good spots to defend a palace
from invading forces because stone walls and ceilings
were obviously perfect in stopping arrows and spears.

America came to love this style of building bridges
since the early nineteenth century when Theodore Burr
built the first one in New York. People were
fascinated by the practicality and durability these
bridges offer. Two more were built in Oregon after the
first one but unfortunately floods destroyed them a
year after they were built. That did not deter the
rest of America from adapting the style however, as
the succeeding years since that time saw the building
of thousands all over America which ushered the era of
the covered bridges.

Covered bridges were the best and most practical
solution in connecting towns and villages growing on
both sides of a river. Ferries were the norm before
bridges became common but they were not good for a
developing economy. Owners of ferries could charge
whatever they want because they had the monopoly in
transportation. This led to a growing demand from
local townspeople to build bridges.

The local governments at the time, seeing the
importance of bridges, then started to put the
construction as their top priority. Putting on roofs
and walls made to protect the bridges was seen as
protecting the taxpayer’s investment since covered
bridges lasted up to three times longer than ordinary,
exposed ones.

They also serve a myriad of purposes, from providing
temporary shelters for travelers stuck because of bad
weather to a rendezvous point for secret lovers. No
matter what the purpose, the rest of the country fell
in love with covered bridges that the ones left now
are protected by law and seen as historic pieces worth

There were at least 12,000 covered bridges all over
America at one time and there were around 3,500 of
them found in Ohio. However these days, because of
rapid commercialization, the availability of new
construction materials, and the durability of
cement-made bridges, wooden covered bridges are slowly
disappearing and have become very hard to find. Some
of the historic covered bridges were moved to private
estates and parks, while others could no longer be
found. Vandalism and arson have also played a role in
the destruction of covered bridges in Ohio where at
least 10 were destroyed in the last 20 years.

However these days great effort has been made in
protecting and preserving these bridges. In Fairfield
County, one can still see a covered bridge built in
1883. Though it was moved and partially reconstructed,
the same materials and styles were used to preserve
its historical integrity. College campuses, private
lands, fairgrounds, public parks, and government-owned
lands are a few places where you can still find a few
of these bridges still being used.

Covered bridges in Ohio are treated as public property
and therefore maintained and protected using public
funds. Form 3500, only over a hundred covered bridges
are left in Ohio where people are now taking on the
fight to preserve them. Ohioans has enjoyed and
benefited from covered bridges since they were first
made, and now the great-grand children of the state
are doing the best they can to stop the slow
disappearance of these historic landmarks that has
helped shape the economy and history of America.

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