Liz and I have returned from another cb/rr trip. On Friday, Sept 19, we drove to Mansfield, Pa and checked into a Comfort Inn. After unloading our luggage, we drove to Pennsylvania's self proclaimed "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania". There are 2 state parks, Leonard Harrison and Colton Point that comprise the park area.
On Saturday, we drove to Wellsboro to ride the Tioga Central Railroad. After the train ride we drove to Exton, Chester county, Pa(near Philadelphia), where we had reservations for 9 nights. I picked a Comfort Suites here because it was reasonably central to Adams, Berks, Bucks, Chester, and Lancaster counties, PA plus northern Delaware.
On Sunday we drove to Delaware, visiting Smith, Ashland and Wooddale bridges. Smith was our 1st stop, and I have att'd interior and exterior photos. Ashland was our 2nd stop--2 photos. We did drive to Woodale, but Liz did not take any pictures, as only the abutments were finished. It was destroyed in a flood in 2003 and is presently being rebuilt.
In the afternoon we drove to the Wilmington & Western rr. We purchased tickets on the Hockessin Express, which went right by the Wooddale bridge. Liz purchased a postcard of the Woodale cb taken before the flood in the RR gift shop. While we were on the train, the conductor pointed out the bridge site, and said before the flood, it was the most photographed site during the train ride. Liz took a picture from the train. Liz says the postcard picture shows that the bridge is very similar to the other two Delaware bridges.
On Monday , September 22, we decided visit Chester County bridges, using a driving tour brochure prepared by the Chester County Visitors office. There are three tours in this brochure--Northeastern Chester County, Octoraro Frontier and Mason-Dixon Line.
We decided to do the north-east tour first. The first bridge is Bartram's, with a portal "as high and wide as a load of hay." As you can see, there is a gate across the bridge, preventing anyone from walking through it. It was bypassed in 1940.
The next bridge, Harmony Hill, we skipped, since we had visited it previously. Larkin bridge (38-15-11) was the next, and proved to be a source of some frustration, since it was not there. We asked a park maintenance man if he knew where it was and he told us that the county tried to move it and it fell apart.
Hall/Sheeder is the next bridge. Notice the double arch truss in front and a third, barely visible behind. I have attached two photos of Kennedy, the next bridge on the tour. Notice that Kennedy and Hall both have stair-step portals.
I have attached three photos of Rapp's Dam, including one showing some missing siding. I hope that PennDOT is aware of this. We skipped Knox bridge, the last one on the tour, since we visited it previously.
On Monday afternoon we continued touring Chester County with the Mason-Dixon tour, skipping the Delaware bridges, and starting with Rudolph and Arthur (38-15-01), then Linton Stevens (38-15-03) and finally Glen Hope.
Tuesday morning we took the Octoraro tour, starting with Speakman #I. Notice the missing boards in the portal at the top of the interior photo. I hope someone who sees this contacts Chester County or PennDOT.
We skipped Speakman #II and Hayes Clark, because they are only open to members of the Brandywine Conservancy.
Next is Mercer's Mill, which had a 5 ton weight limit, in answer to Konrad. The next two bridges on this tour, Jackson's Mill and White Rock, are actually inside Lancaster County, but were included in the tour. The last bridge, Pine Grove, is back in Chester County.
After this tour, we stopped for lunch, shopping and a stop at the Lancaster County Visitors Center. The Lancaster Visitors Center gave us a Lancaster County Covered Bridge driving tour. Their phone number is 1-800 PA-DUTCH.
Lancaster County is home to a large Amish population, followers of John Amin, a German who left Germany with his followers about 1850, escaping turbulent times before German unification. The Amish are called "Pennsylvania Dutch" because they spoke German/Deutsch so Americans called them "Dutch"-- even though they were not from the Netherlands. Interestingly, the Amish refer to all non Amish as "the English" because they are English speakers. The Amish still speak a German dialect among themselves from what I have read. They do not use modern appliances, including TVs or cars. We saw many of their black horse drawn buggies. Some of you may have seen the movie "Witness" that depicted their lifestyle. The Amish do not like to have their pictures taken, so I suspect that only non Amish were in the movie.
On the way back to our motel, we stopped at the Willows bridge, actually a combination of two bridges. [Here is the text] of an explanatory sign:
This is a combination of two bridges:
Both bridges were slated for destruction in 1962. Mr. Adolph Neuber (then owner of the Amish Farm and Home) was given the Millers Farm Bridge from the County of Lancaster to preserve this historical landmark. He purchased the Goods Ford Bridge to repair the rotten wood from the Millers. With the help and guidance of Roy Zimmerman, the bridges were restored and combined to comlete the Willows Bridge.
The bridge was named for Mr. Neuber's restaurant, The Willows, which was located next door (1931-1996).
Every piece, except the wood shingles, is from the original bridges the original handmade spikes and bolts were reused.
The floor is red oak while some chords are white pine. The arches were cut from pine tree that were 150 years old when cut, therefore making part of the bridge's wood almost 300 years old!
Today there are less than 30....
We also stopped at the Leaman Place (38-36-20) bridge. Liz took a picture of a horse drawn tourist wagon going through the bridge.
On Wednesday, the 24th, we drove to Bucks County visiting Schofield Ford first. Liz and I like the interior picture with the sunlight streaming through the side while she walks the bridge. The next two bridges are Van Sant and Pine Valley. We then tried to find South Perkasie, but were unsuccessful. We did find Mood's bridge, now rebuilt, after being destroyed by arson. It is now one-way. We parked in a soccer team parking lot and took pictures, including one from a footbridge about 100 feet away that leads to the soccer field. The final three bridges are Sheard's Mill, Knecht's, and Frankenfield. We then drove back to the motel.
An afterthought--Liz notes that all Bucks County have town lattice Trusses (Schofield has both queen and town lattice trusses).
On Thursday the 25th we started on the Lititz & Countryside tour. We visited Hunsecker's Mill, Pinetown, Zook's Mill and Erb's Mill bridges.
Notice the weight limit signs in the Hunsecker and Pinetown pictures. As for weight limits, if there is no weight limit sign posted, I believe the limit is a standard set by PennDOT which is probably 25 tons. Some bridges have barriers hung from the portals to prevent overweight trucks.
Note the missing siding in Zook's picture. Again, I hope PennDOT (PA Dept of Transportation) or Lancaster County is aware.
Incidentally, the reason so many of the bridges have "Mill" included in their name is because they were built to provide access to a gristmill for grinding wheat into flour, frequently using a waterwheel and dam for power.
We ended this tour at lunchtime in the town of Lititz. We took a tour of the Julius Sturgis Pretzel bakery, the oldest hard pretzel bakery in the USA. The tour was interesting, included a free bag of pretzels, an "Official Pretzel Twister" Certificate and cost $3 each. There was a pretzel store where you could buy pretzels.
In the afternoon, we drove the Northern Amish Countryside tour, starting with Bucher's Mill (2 scans, one with a weight sign).
Next were Red Run, Weaver's Mill, Pool Forge and Bitzer's Mill. There are 3 scans of Pool Forge, one with Liz, One with portal and one full side view. There are 2 scans of Bitzer's Mill, one with a weight sign and one with an Amish buggy.
On Friday, September 26, we drove the "Historic Rivertowns and Western Villages" Lancaster County tour.
Forry's Mill bridge has a weight limit of 5 tons. Next are Siegrist's Mill, Schenck's Mill and Kaufman's Distillery. the last bridge on this tour is in a small park in the town of Manheim.
We ate a picnic lunch before starting on the "Scenic Parks and Preserves" tour. You may have noticed that there is only one picture of some bridges. These bridges had no place to park, so I would let Liz out, drive thru the bridge, turn around and come back to pick her up.
In the afternoon we started with Neff's Mill bridge, skipping the first three, since we had already seen them. Next is Lime Valley with a Willow tree. Next, I have attached two pictures of the Colemanville bridge, both showing side windows, one with the stream. The last two bridges are Baumgardener's and Kurtz's Mill. Notice the historic stone building thru the Baumgardener bridge.
I have attached 2 pictures of the Kurtz bridge, a side view and a frontal view. This was the last bridge on the tour. There was one more bridge in Lancaster County, not on any of the driving tours, that we were unable to find. It was the Landis Mill/Little Conestoga, only covered bridge in Lancaster County that we we did not visit.
On Saturday, September 27, 2008, we drove to Gettysburg and rode the Pioneer Lines Scenic Railway. I have attached three pictures--Gettysburg engine, station with Liz, and engine with both of us--courtesy of a friendly volunteer conductor. The Gettysburg train, along with the other 3 trains are all volunteer operations and are looking for volunteers.
After the train ride we drove to Jack's Mountain bridge, the only remaining covered bridge in Adams County open to vehicular traffic. It is the only bridge in Pennsylvania that uses traffic lights to control traffic across the one lane bridge. There was no place to park, so I let Liz out and drove thru the bridge and turned around 3 blocks away. She was able to get 2 pictures--one including the traffic signal and weight limit sign(see scans). We previously visited Sauck's bridge and the other two were private. Liz decided that she just wanted to return to the motel, rather visit the private bridges.
On Sunday we drove to West Chester, Pa. about 10 miles from our motel. The West Chester Railroad was chartered in 1831 and is 1 of the oldest railroads in the country. I chatted with the President of the railroad (a volunteer organization). We arrived at the ticket office about 10:30 and the 1st train did not depart until 12 noon. We had allowed time for getting lost, which indeed did happen, thanks to construction and one way streets, but were still early. The president and another officer told us that the ticket lady would arrive about 11:30. I told the president that I would be doing a travelogue of our covered bridge/rr trip, and would include pictures of the West Chester RR. I gave him the VCBS website address. He said that he would mention it at their next meeting. I don't know if this will get the VCBS any new members, but certainly some new readers. I have attached the following: Wester Chester sign, Glen Mills station & engine, Liz and Glen Mills station and West Chester RR engine.
After the train ride we drove north into Berk's county to visit four covered bridges: Pleasntville, Greisemer's Mill, Wertz and Kutz Mill. I photographed the Wertz bridge truss detail because of the stair step truss. We had previously visited Dreibelbis Station bridge. I have attached three pictures of Pleasantville: interior, outside with and without barrier.
I have att'd one picture of Greisemer's. Wertz bridge is located in the Berks' County Heritage Park, where Liz took a picture of me in front of a "Distlefink" statue (Amish name for bird of paradise). There are two pictures of Wertz, portal and side view with reflection in the stream. Notice the Amish circular good luck signs on the portals. I understand the Amish started painting these on their barns.
We visited 49 bridges and rode 4 trains this trip. I'll stop here before this msg gets too big.