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Covered Bridges In America, A Faster Factoid by FooteWork

Have you ever wondered why bridges were covered in the first place? Some theories are that they were built to provide shelter from the weather to travelers and their horses, or so that the horses would not be frightened by the waters below the bridge. Folklore states that they were nick-named “kissing bridges”, as sweethearts would meet under them. The real reason, however, is more practical than romantic. They were designed to protect the structure of the bridge from the elements.

Covered Bridge

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According to Townships Heritage WebMagazine, “covered bridges have existed for centuries.” The oldest ones that remain today are in Europe, and date back to the Middle Ages. It is thought that the Americans upon arrriving in the New World brought the technology with them in the 17th and 18th centuries. Per the research done in Pennsylvania, nearly 14,000 authentic wooden covered bridges once existed here; but today, less that 900 are still in tact. Recently, Federal grants have become available to states for the purpose of restoring and/or rebuilding historic structures. Many of the covered bridges that have been preserved are over 150 years old.

Covered bridges have caught the fancy of painters, poets and writers. They bring up reflections of romantic trysts and nostalgic thoughts of historical Americana. There is one covered bridge, the Sim Smith Bridge in Parke County, Rockville, Indiana, that is reputed to be haunted. Covered bridges have continued to receive recognition in folklore and fiction. Examples are, The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, and The Roseman Covered Bridge, written in 1883.

The following poem, make this writer’s case for the romantic:

“A bridge is a curious things to cover.
mile after mile of naked road-
then a wooden box over stream or ravine.
Why not cover the road instead
leaving the bridge unclothed?
but where’s the charm in that, you say?

Well, perhaps it was made for Currier and Ives
or to embellish the music
of iron shod hooves on oaken planks.
Or maybe it was built as a kiosk
for fading feed and carnival posters
and jackknife glyph of amorous initials.
No, all our covered bridges, real or imagined,
guide our passage over deadly waters-
holding us fast on the road
and safe from drowning”.
– Robert Charles Howard – from Unity Tree, collected poems pub. by CreateSpace.
Robert Howard’s work is also available on Kindle by Amazon.

Have any pics of bridges in Northern Arizona, covered or not? Send them our way to ! FooteWork provides comprehensive motor vehicle services to Northern Arizona with offices in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood, and Williams, Arizona.

Don’t forget FooteWork of Prescott will start offering Drivers License Services this June 01, 2015! For more info, Contact FooteWork“Faster, Friendlier Motor Vehicle Services”.

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