Remember the Meryl Streep film, Bridges of Madison County?
Well, this is not exactly that.
When we were recently in Ohio, visiting my Mother, we took her for several drives. Her mobility and stamina are such that it was easier to go for drives than to go to places where she would need to get out of the car and perambulate behind a walking frame. On the first drive we happened across one of the old covered bridges in the area. I can actually remember as a child driving through these bridges on several occasions; the sounds of the timber under the car tires and the strobing light shafts coming through the wooden slats as we drove slowly through. It may have even been this one at White Oak Creek, though it is no longer in use today. A lot can happen in 50+ years!
The purpose of the covering was to preserve the floor timbers from the weather, and to give a short respite to those traveling in nasty weather, which is common in this part of the world. Horses and buggies would have still been used when these bridges were built in the late 1800’s. These are the same types of covered bridges as from the film, and have similar heritage protection. There were originally 19 such bridges in Madison County, Iowa, only 6 of which remain. You can read more about them here.
As for the Ohio bridges, there remain over 125 to this day! You can see the list here, and view some photos as well. Each one has a character of its own and despite the obvious maintenance and traffic limitation issues, many are still in use. There are many, many more covered bridges throughout the United States and Canada, but it is surprising how many people have never seen one or even heard of them. They survive in out of the way places on country roads, and today most of us travel via expressways.
After we all enjoyed the New Hope covered bridge so much, we decided to make our next drive a purposeful effort to find Stonelick covered bridge. This one, 140 feet long, is still in use and we drove through it. I walked back through to take a photo and absorb the atmosphere. The timbers are so special. A car came while I was walking through so I did my best limpet imitation, and stuck carefully to the inside wall giving the car plenty of room. There was more space than I expected, so all was well. While these bridges are very evocative and even romantic, I imagine if this was the only access to your house and grounds, you would need to plan carefully for deliveries and work being undertaken.
Our little bridge excursions were a link back five or so decades for us, and 7 or so decades for my Mother; back to something special in a place where we all grew up, but much of which no longer resembles our memories of it.