A picture tour and historical information about covered bridges

The Covered Bridges of Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania

Which state had the first covered bridge?
Which state qualifies as the Covered Bridge Capitol of the World?

If you said Pennsylvania, you would be correct!

Lehigh Valley's 
Covered Bridges
(Includes Lehigh and
Northampton Counties)

Click on the name to visit the bridge:










Stonemason John Lewis left this inscription on the a granite block that supported the U.S.A.'s first covered bridge spanning the Schuylkill River of Philadelphia. The reader may recognize the Roman numerals, but what of the garbled letters? Mr. Lewis just didn't have enough space so he used initials:

This First Corner Stone Of The Schuylkill Permanent Bridge Was Laid
 October 18, 1800.

The cornerstone is believed to still lay beneath the Eastern end of today's Market Street Bridge.

This first covered bridge was built by Timothy Palmer from Newburyport Massachusetts. The bridge was 550 feet long incorporating three spans combining arches and a multiple kingpost design for strength. Judge Richard Peters, president of the Schuylkill Permanent Bridge Company, is believed to have been responsible for the bridge becoming a covered design so that it would last longer.

The Covered Bridge Capitol of the World?

Pennsylvania has 250 of the remaining 1500 covered bridges in the United States. That makes it the covered bridge capitol of the world!

One disadvantage of the covered bridge occurred during snowstorms when sleds were in use. Snow would need to be shoveled into the bridge to provide a snowy surface for the sled runners.

The Kissing Bridges

Walking along with his girl on a pretty spring day, his head filled with romance, and suddenly there is the privacy of a covered bridge. No wonder these bridges became known as kissing bridges.


Among the many bridge designs, the Burr Truss coupled with a multiple kingpost design provides the support structure for all seven of the Lehigh Valley's covered bridges. The arch of the Burr Truss provided a stronger support than the kingpost truss and therefore allowed a longer span to be built. Theodore Burr from Connecticut patented the Burr truss design in 1804. He was not related to Aaron Burr.

Other truss designs used in various parts of the country included the Howe truss, Warren truss, Smith truss, Queenpost Truss and Town Truss.

Want to learn more. Look for these references:

1. "Pennsylvania's Covered Bridges, A Complete Guide", by Benjamin Evans and June Evans, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993

2. "Covered Bridges of the Middle Atlantic States, Their Illustrated history in War and Peace", by Richard Sanders Allen, The Stephen Green Press, 1959

Visiting Lehigh County? Pick up a brochure on a self guided driving tour of the Covered Bridges of Lehigh County. Call the Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-747-0561 for information.

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