The old covered bridges that sprinkle the
countryside of Chester county provide a romantic tale of yester-year. At
one time there were over 100 covered bridges in this county. Fires, flood
and "progress" have done all but a handful of them in.
Bridges did not appear in Pennsylvania until around 1800. One should
notice that the name 'ford' appears in so many of the towns and villages located
on the banks of the Schuylkill. This suggests that there were a number of
roads that led up to shallow areas of the river; meaning that these areas were
suitable for being forded riders on horseback or wagons. General George
Washington, while at Valley Forge, even had a listing of all the fords between
Indiantown Ford (Mont Clare) and Philadelphia. Included were the exact
depths of the water in both the wet and dry seasons.
Many of the covered bridges built in this area are of the Burr-type. In
1806, Theodore Burr, a carpenter, received a patent to build bridges. Most
bridges were built to accommodate the farmer. A high hat bridge was made
so a farmer could drive a load of hay through the openings. Other types
included tailroad, humpback and double barrel (which had a walk-way on one
side). Snow was brought inside the bridges after storm to make
sleigh travel easier.
Listed below are some of the covered bridges that, at one
time, could be found in this county.
This bridge is located in Willistown township and crosses Crum Creek, between
Chester and Delaware counties. It still carries the faded lettering,
"LINCOLN, Save Union and Congress"
This bridge crosses the Octorara Creek on the borders of Chester and Lancaster
counties. It is located in Upper Oxford township, on the road between Homeville
and Union Church.
GIBSON'S or HARMONY HILL BRIDGE
This 77-foot bridge was built in 1870 and is located in both East and West
Bradford townships. It is situated over the east branch of the Brandywine Creek,
between Downingtown and West Chester.
GLEN HOPE BRIDGE.
This bridge is located in Elk township and crosses over Little Elk Creek at
Anderson's Ford. It is on the road between Chrome and Lewisville.
This bridge was located in East Bradford township and crosses the East
Brandywine. The original bridge was destroyed by fire in 1952. The original site
of the bridge was where General Cornwallis crossed the Brandywine with British
troops during the Battle at Chadds Ford in September, 1777.
This 96-foot bridge was built in 1856 by Alexander Kennedy and Jesse King. It is
located in Kimberton and crosses the French Creek.
This 50-foot bridge was built in 1851 by Robert Russell. The original structure
was washed away by a flood in and was immediately rebuilt. One says that the
bridge was named for Brig. General Henry Knox, whose soldiers were encamped by
the Valley Creek in the winter of 1778. Still another says the bridge was named
for Philander C. Knox, the US Attorney General and Secretary of State under
LARKINS BRIDGE (aka Thompson Bridge)
This 60-foot bridge was originally built in 1854 and later rebuilt in 1881. The
bridge is located in Upper Uwchland township and crosses Marsh Creek. It is
south of Milford Mills.
LINTON STEVENS BRIDGE
This bridge is located over Big Elk Creek, where the townships of East
Nottingham, Elk and New London meet; on the road between Hickory Hill and New
This bridge crosses Black Run in West Nottingham township on the road leading
from Fremont to Kirk's Mills.
MERCER'S FORD BRIDGE
This 84+-foot bridge is borders on both Chester and Lancaster counties. It
crosses the east branch of the Octorara, southwest of Atglen. It is on the road
between Steelville and Christiana; in West Fallowfield township.
This bridge is in East Fallowfield township, just south of Coatesville in
Mortonville. It crosses the Brandywine Creek.
NORTHBROOK or MARSHALL'S BRIDGE
This was the oldest covered bridge in America at the time it was demolished on
18 November 1953. This 100-foot bridge was situated over the West Brandywine in
Northbrook from 1795 to 1953. The original bridge was destroyed by fire in 1805,
but was rebuilt in 1807.
PINE GROVE BRIDGE
This bridge is located in Lower Oxford township; between Oxford and Oak Hill.
The first bridge was built in 1816, but was destroyed by a storm. The second
bridge was destroyed by ice in 1846 and was replaced in 1884.
This bridge was built in 1866 and is located in East Pikeland township, between
Rte. 23 and Kimberton. It crosses the French Creek, west of Phoenixville.
RUDOLPH AND ARTHUR'S BRIDGE.
This bridge is located between New London and Elk townships; over Big Elk Creek,
between Hickory Hill and Kemblesville.
SHEEDER HALL BRIDGE.
This bridge is located in East Vincent township, north of Birchrunville. It
crosses the French Creek at Birch Run.
This bridge is located in East Fallowfield township on the road between Rokeby
to Youngsburg. It crosses Buck Run Creek.
This bridge is located in West Marlboro township; it crosses over Buck Run,
between Doe Run Village and Mortonville.