Linda enjoys reading, learning, and writing about different things. She enjoys sharing her love of writing, history, and crafts with others.
Covered Bridges Are Now a Part of American History
At one time, there were approximately 1,400 to 1,500 covered bridges across the United States. Today, most of those bridges are gone, some swept away by flood waters and severe storms or they simply became too old and unsafe for heavy cars and trucks.
Some of these covered bridges that do remain are at least one hundred and fifty years old. Many states are now trying to save these historical bridges and restore them because they have become historical landmarks and should be valued by future generations who will otherwise never know the beauty and stories of these covered bridges.
Covered Bridges Gone but Not Forgotten
Covered bridges once covered most of America’s streams and creeks, connecting towns and counties. However, today most are gone and have been replaced by unappealing but sturdy and safe concrete bridges. Beautifully structured covered bridges are now mostly just memories and pictures to younger Americans. Even I barely remember traveling over these bridges as a child.
But in my area, we do have a few bridges that have survived the years of high water and floods that moved many bridges off their foundations and washed them downstream or completely destroyed them. Some have been turned over to the local county historical society which keeps them in good shape. Most cannot be driven over anymore but there are a few throughout America that still are open to traffic. And there are colorful, haunted stories attached to a few of them.
Memories of Covered Bridges
Covered bridges are a huge part of America’s history and bring back good memories of a time when life was simple and carefree. Covered bridges certainly create an urban country picture like nothing else. A picture of a covered bridge in winter covered with snow and an icy creek beneath it seems to make me want to sing the song “Over the River and Through the Wood,” originally a poem by Lydia Marie Child. A horse-drawn sleigh completes the picture.
And in the fall a covered bridge makes a beautiful picture with colorful foliage surrounding it and water rushing underneath it. We can only wish we still had the opportunity to go on just one sleigh ride over the old covered bridge now because it is an era that is pretty much gone forever.
Stories of Ghosts and Haunted Bridges
But covered bridges also have a history of colorful and interesting stories of ghosts and legends of haunting. Covered bridges have many great stories to tell. Young lovers found these covered bridges great places to sneak away from prying eyes. But many of these bridges also have some very sad stories and legends attached to them and down through the years have become sites for those interested in paranormal activities.
Emily’s Bridge in Stowe, Vermont
Emily’s bridge is a colorful sad tale. The story is that Emily went to the bridge to wait for her young beau and the pair planned to elope. However, the groom failed to appear and Emily was found hanging from the rafters of the bridge.
Another version of the story is that Emily was thrown from a horse into the water and drowned. And then there is the story of a woman who says she made up the whole story to keep kids in the 1970s from partying at or near the bridge.
Whether any of the stories are true, the bridge continues to draw those looking for paranormal presence. It has been reported that Emily seems to be a furious ghost who will leave scratches on cars and people.
Historic Sachs Bridge in Gettysburg Pennsylvania
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania claims one of the most historic covered bridges in Pennsylvania or for that matter in the entire nation. Sachs Bridge was built sometime between 1852 and 1854 by David Stone. It crosses Marsh Creek, in Adams County, for one hundred feet and is fifteen feet wide.
This bridge’s claim to fame is that during the battle of Gettysburg both the Union Army and the Confederate Army used this bridge. General Robert E. Lee and his confederate troops retreated from Gettysburg by way of Sachs Bridge.
It is said that this bridge is haunted because of the three confederate deserters who were hung from the one end of the bridge. The story goes that the three men were attempting to desert the Confederate army and tried to blend in with the Union Army. When the three men were discovered to be confederate soldiers the Union Army hung them as spies. The Sacs Bridge is also near the hospitals and battlefields that were used after the Battle of Gettysburg.
In later years, it is said that the bridge is a beautiful site and draws many visitors during the daytime. However, it seems that at night it is a totally different scene. The bridge tends to draw many who are interested in ghostly sightings. Several have claimed to see the soldiers hanging from the bridge at night.
The Sachs Bridge was closed to traffic in 1968 due to heavy rains in 1996 or 1997 which washed the bridge off its foundation and moved it downstream. It has since been taken over by the Gettysburg Preservation Association and repaired.
Hell’s Bridge in Rockford Michigan
While Hell's Bridge is more of a steel walking type bridge, it does have a ghastly tale that sounds like a Stephen King horror movie. It seems that children were being abducted in the local area of the bridge. The townspeople decided to search for the abductor and left their children in the care of a fictional character named Friske who they thought to be a kind caring old gentleman but who turned out to be the one abducting and killing the children.
Friske seemed to be possessed by demons and killed the children he was supposed to be looking after. The enraged parents immediately hung the old man from the bridge. It makes quite a gruesome story although it’s doubtful it’s true. The location of the bridge out in a remote wooded area makes the bridge much scarier to visit, especially at nighttime.
Colville Covered Bridge in Kentucky
Colville covered bridge was built in Kentucky in 1877. There are several stories about the bridge being haunted but the biggest ghost story is the story of a pair of teenagers who died on prom night. The story is that the couple was driving home in the 1930s from their prom and their car veered out of control and ended up in the water and the two drowned. The remote location of this bridge certainly helps to lend a haunted feel at night if you are brave enough to visit the bridge at night.
Preserving the History and the Stories
Covered bridges have some very interesting and colorful stories of young lovers and lost lives. How many of the stories are true no one knows. But these bridges certainly were a great part of our history and hopefully, some will remain cared for to preserve their history and their stories.
It takes time, money, and volunteers to save our wooden covered bridges but they are worth the time and effort. These covered bridges have timeless beauty, wonderful charm, and great engineering structures. If you have the time, money, energy, and knowledge to help save our bridges please consider chipping in.
Sources and Further Reading
- Sachs Covered Bridge | Civil War Ghosts
As are most things associated with the American Civil War, the haunted Sachs Covered Bridge is yet another on the long list of haunted structures found in Pennsylvania.
- The Ghostly Store Behind Emily's Covered Bridge| Stowe Country Homes
Also known as the Stowe Hollow Bridge, Emily's Bridge is definitely an interesting one. This bridge is filled with plenty of ghost stories! Click here to learn more!
- Emily's Bridge of Stowe | Vermont's Most Famous Ghost Story
Emily's Bridge is located in Stowe, VT. The legend is probably the most famous Vermont "ghost story" of all. Learn more about Emily's Bridge here.
- Ghost Stories Linked to Kentucky Covered Bridge | FOX 56 News
The Colville Covered Bridge in Bourbon County has been a scenic spot since 1877, a photographer’s delight. But legend doesn’t always paint a pretty picture. There are stories surrounding the bridge that fill many people with dread.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 L.M. Hosler