In 1937, York County had 25 covered bridges. Now, it has one, kind of
Workers are rehabbing the covered bridge connecting Cumberland and York counties on Messiah College’s campus. The covered bridge was built in 1867. It was moved from Bowmansdale to the college in 1972 and runs parallel to a wooden pedestrian bridge over the Yellow Breeches Creek. York County is home to Messiah College’s athletic fields. Also of interest: Does Washington Township’s ‘The Pickets’ link with Civil War? and Think one of these photos could be the Detters Mill dam? and View of the old Detters Mill covered bridge.
Messiah College has the the last traffic-bearing covered bridge in York County on its campus.
Well, it crosses the Yellow Breeches, the boundary of York and Cumberland counties, to at least touch the bank in York County.
It’s undergoing renovations so it can keep the status of York County’s only covered bridge. (Some existing covered bridges are ornamental or for pedestrians, but not traffic-bearing bridges).
At late as 1937, 25 covered bridges crossed streams in York County.
When did the last covered bridge, entirely within the border of of York County, disappear?
Here’s an account from “Never to be Forgotten,” covering the county’s bridges:
Fitzgerald’s Heavy Timber Construction is using period and modern machinery to rehab the covered bridge on Messiah College’s campus.
“A survey shows a 250-foot covered bridge over Conewago Creek at “The Picketts” is the longest of the 25 such bridges spanning county creeks. The Detters Mill bridge, a double span structure, connects Dover and Warrington townships on the Wellsville-Davidsburg Road. The longest single span bridge is the 197-foot structure at Eisenhart’s Mill over the Conewago connecting Washington and Paradise townships.
“One by one, the bridges disappear because of age, high water or vandalism. Flooding from Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972 destroys Bentzel’s Mill bridge, the county’s last remaining covered bridge. High water in Little Conewago Creek carried the structure 50 feet downstream and deposited a large section of roof on the concrete bridge that replaced it. The bridge was constructed before the Civil War.”
Today, the lonely, bridgeless center pier of the Detters Mill bridge stands in the middle of the Conewago Creek, just downstream from its junction with the Bermudian Creek.
Not long ago, its buddy, the Detters Mill dam, was breeched further changing the landscape at The Picketts, once a busy milling locale.
Covered bridges had roofs to stem decay. But Civil War-era bridges could not support the increasingly heavy vehicles of the 20th century.
And they just got old. They weren’t preserved, as is happening at Messiah College.
And they came down, one by one.
– For extensive background on the Messiah College bridge – known as the Stoner Bridge after it’s found, check out Lauren Miller’s Covered Bridge Resonates with Messiah College Students, Alumni, & Staff.
*Photos courtesy of York Daily Record/Sunday News