According to county records, Chester County once had 85 covered bridges, 21 of which were shared with other counties. The earliest recorded covered bridge in Chester County was built in 1807 and the most recent in 1899. Only 15 covered bridges remain today, the oldest being the Hall's Sheeder Bridge built in 1850. The covered bridge played an important part in the transportation system of the County throughout the 19 th century. Many of the bridges were built to serve local mills and the transportation of agricultural produce to market.
Because Chester's bridges were built under the control of the county very good records of the builders and the cost of construction exist. Before a bridge could be built petitions and competitive bidding were required as well as the overseeing of bridge construction were conducted by the County.
The covered bridge was an important transportation resource in Chester County, the remaining bridges are a fine examples of this period in Pennsylvania Bridge technology.
Bartram's / Goshen Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 59.39 W 75 26.23)
Also listed with Delaware County.
Bartram's is approximately 1 mile west of Echo Valley between Willistown Township, Chester County and Newtown Township, Delaware County. The structure was built by Ferdinand Wood utilizing the Burr Arch design. the bridge is 60 feet long and 13 feet wide, it crosses Crum Creek. The bridge is in good condition but closed to vehicle traffic. This bridge is owned and maintained by Chester and Delaware Counties.
Gibson's / Harmony Hill Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 58.57 W 75 40.98)
This bridge is located on Township Route 322, Harmony Hill Road, approximately 2 miles south of Downingtown, between East Bradford and West Bradford Townships. The structure was built in 1872 by Edward Hall and Thomas Schull at the cost of $2,600 utilizing the Burr Truss design. The bridge is 78 ft. long and 14 feet wide, it crosses Brandywine Creek (E.Branch) The bridge is in good condition and open to traffic. The structure and property is maintained by Chester County.
Glen Hope Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 43.62 W 75 54.45)
Glen Hope bridge is located on Township Route 344, just south of Elk Mills, in Elk Township. The structure was built in 1889 by Menander Wood and George E. Jones utilizing the Burr Truss. The bridge 65 feet long and 16 feet wide it crosses Elk Creek. Glen Hope is owned and maintained by Chester County. This structure was destroyed by fire in 1987 but has since been reconstructed. The bridge is in good condition and open to traffic.
Halls/Sheeder/Sheeder Hall Bridge
(GPS N 40 08.86 W 75 37.24)
This bridge is located on State Route 1033, Hollow Road, southwest of Hiestand, between West Vincent and East Vincent Townships. The structure was built in 1850 by Robert Russell and Jacob Fox they used the Burr Arch Truss in its construction. The bridge is 100 feet long and 15 feet wide it crosses French Creek, it is in Good condition and open to vehicle traffic. The bridge is owned by Chester County
Hayes Clark Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 55.21 W 75 47.92)
Hayes Clark Bridge is located Laurel Reserve, off of Township Route 371 in Doe Run. This bridge is private and permission to visit is granted by the Brandywine Conservancy in Chaddis Ford. Originally this bridge was built in 1884 by Menander Wood and Denithorne and Pollitt of Phoenixville utilizing the Burr Truss, the total cost of the structure was $2,526; the original bridge was destroyed by fire in 1963. The bridge was reconstructed in 1971 by the Buck and Doe Run Valley Farms they used the Queenpost design in their construction. The bridge is 75 feet long and 16 feet wide and crosses Doe Run. The structure is is in good condition closed to vehicle traffic. The bridge is privately owned.
Kennedy Covered Bridge
(GPS N 40 08.42 W 75 34.58)
Kennedy Bridge is located on Township Route 522, north of Kimberton, on Seven Stars Road in East Vincent Township. The original bridge was built in 1856 by Alex King and Jesse King, a plaque on the inside of the bridge has the following information: "Built in 1856 by Len Kennedy and Jesse King...Refurbished in 1979..Destroyed by fire on May 10, 1986..Refurbished in 1987". When this bridge was rebuilt they used bongossi (non-flammable wood from Africa). The present bridge is a duplicate of the original. The original bridge was built utilizing the Burr Arch at the cost of $2,149. This structure is 100 feet long and 14 feet wide it crosses French Creek it is in good condition and is open to vehicle traffic. The bridge is owned and maintained by Chester County.
Knox / Valley Forge Covered Bridge
(GPS N40 05.233 W75 27.382)
This bridge can be located in Valley Forge Park, Tredyffrin Township. From the town of Phoenixville go east on PA-23/Valley Forge Road for 2.6 miles and turn right on Pa-252/Valley Creek Road. After 1.1 miles, turn right on Yellow Springs Road where you will find the bridge. The original bridge was built on this site in 1851 and destroyed by the flood of 1865 which resulted in the building of the second bridge. This structure was built by Robert Russell utilizing the Burr Arch, the length of the bridge is 65 feet and the width is 13 feet, it crosses Valley Creek and is in good condition opened to vehicle traffic. This bridge is named after Philander C. Knox (1855-1921) United States Senator from Pennsylvania and General Henry Knox (1750-1806) an officer quartered at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778. This bridge is Federally owned.
Larkin Covered Bridge
(GPS N 40 04.948 W 75 41.133)
Larkin Covered Bridge has been relocated to Eagle, Pa., at the Byers Station Development just east of Route 100 (Pottsville Pike) along Graphite Mine Road . The original structure was built in 1854 by Menander and Ferdinand Wood and rebuilt in 1881. The present structure was moved in April 2006 to its present location. The bridge is 60 feet long and 14 feet wide, it is in very good condition and only open to foot traffic. The State owns and maintains this structure.
Linton Stevens/Stephens Bridge
(GPS N 39 45.39 W 75 54.74)
This structure is located on Township Route 310 in Elk Township where it becomes Route 344 in New London Township, Kings Row Road, 0.8 mile north of the junction with State Route 472 between Peacedale and Hickory Hill. The bridge was built in 1886 by J. Denithorne & Son utilizing the Burr Arch, it crosses Big Elk Creek. The length of the structure is 102 feet and has a 15 foot width, it is in good condition and open to vehicle traffic. The County of Chester owns and maintains this bridge. Linton Stevens (Stephens) was the postmaster of the town of Hickory Hill
Mercer's Mill / Mercer Ford Covered Bridge
(GPS N39 55.89 W 75 58.89)
Also listed with Lancaster County.
The bridge is located on Township Route 976, two miles south of Christiana Lancaster County. The structure joins West Fallowfield Township Chester County, and Sadsbury Township, Lancaster County.
The bridge was built in 1880 by B.C. Carter using the Burr Arch design, the length of the bridge is 86 feet and has a width of 15 feet. This bridge crosses Octoraro Creek, it is in good condition and open to vehicle traffic. Mercer's is owned and maintained by both Counties equally.
Pine Grove Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 47.618 W 76 02.687)
Also listed with Lancaster County.
Pine Grove Bridge is located on State Route 2006, just southeast of the junction with Township Route 754 in Pine Grove, Lancaster County. This structure joins East Nottingham Townshi0, Chester County and Little Britain Township, Lancaster County.
The original bridge was built in 1816 but was destroyed by a storm. The second bridge was built in 1846 and was swept away by ice. The bridge standing today was built in 1884 by Elias McMellen utilizing the Burr Truss it was refurbished in 2008. The bridge is 198 feet long and 15 feet wide, and crosses the Octoraro Creek. This bridge is in excellent condition and open to vehicle traffic. This bridge is the longest in Chester/Lancaster Counties. The structure is owned and maintained by the state of Pennsylvania.
Rapp's / Rapp's Dam Covered Bridge
(GPS N 40 08.29 W 75 33.17)
The location of this bridge is on State Route 1049, Rapp's Dam Road, 0.3 miles southwest of State Route 23, 2 miles northwest of Phoenixville. East Pikeland Township.
This bridge was named for George A Rapp and his sons who operated a sawmill and gristmill just south of the bridge. The structure was built in 1866 by Benjamin F. Hartman using the Burr Arch in construction. The bridge is 105 feet long and 14 feet wide, it crosses French Creek. The bridge is in good condition and open the vehicle traffic, it is owned and maintained by the state.
Rudolph and Arthur Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 44.73 W 75 52.93)
This bridge is located on Township Route 307, between New London and Elk Townships.
This bridge was built by the site of the paper firm owned by Rudolph and Arthur families in 1880, the contractor for the structure was Menander Wood who built it for the sum of $1,440. Richard T. Meredith was the mason and laid the stone and mortar abutments and wing walls for $890. The bridge utilizes the Burr Arch design, it is 80 feet long and 15 feet wide, it crosses Big Elk Creek. This bridge is in good condition and open to vehicle traffic, it is owned and maintained by the County
Speakman No. 1 Covered Bridge
(GPS N 39 55.76 W 75 49.35)
Speakman No. 1 is located on Covered Bridge Road (SR 3047) south of Ercildoun.
This bridge at one time served the Jonathan Speakman gristmill and so it was named. The bridge was built in 1881 by Menander Wood and Ferdinand Wood utilizing the Burr Arch for the sum of $2,000. The structure is 75 feet long and 14 feet wide and crosses Buck Run. The bridge is in good condition and open to vehicle traffic. Speakman No. 1 is owned and maintained by the State of Pennsylvania.
Speakman No. 2 / Mary Ann Pyle
(GPS N 39 55.31 W 75 48.00)
This is the second of the "Twin Bridges" in the Laurel Reserve, private property of Brandywine Conservancy and not open to the public. Anyone wishing to see of the bridges must obtain permission from the Brandywine Conservancy, located in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
The bridge was built in 1881 by Menandere Wood and Ferdinand Wood utilizing the Queenpost design. The structure is 75 feet long and 15 feet wide, it crosses Buck Run, it is only open to foot traffic. This is a privately owned structure.
This bridge and Hayes Clark was originally built by James B. Pyle a local land owner, and this one was named after his daughter Mary Ann Prior. The bridge was built at a total cost of $1,938--$1,183 for woodwork and $755 for masonry work.
(Chester County photos provided by Bob Sheldon.)