Forget the Bridges of Madison County--Pennsylvania has more covered bridges than any other state. The first known covered bridge in the United States was built in Philadelphia in 1805, and at one time in the 1800s Pennsylvania had about 1500 covered bridges. The bridges were covered to protect them from the elements so that they would last longer.

Today, Bucks County still has a handful of beautiful covered bridges scattered throughout the county. The oldest bridges date from 1832, making them over 170 years old. One of the younger ones, the Schofield Ford Covered Bridge, is only a few years old--the original structure, built in 1873, was burned by vandals in 1991 and rebuilt in 1997.

Unfortunately, the covered bridges in Bucks County seem to perpetually be at risk, and the cause is not the slow procession of time. The number of covered bridges decreased from 12 to 11 for a few years after another one of them, the 1874 Mood's Covered Bridge, was destroyed in an act of arson in June, 2004. Six young men from the area (all ages 20 and 21) burned the bridge down for no reason other than what one observer said was the "irreverence some people have for historical objects." In fact, as one local resident stated in a letter to the editor in the local newspaper, "The destruction of this beautiful bridge seems to be the symbolic final straw in the transformation of Pennridge from a unique, historically rich community into just another nondescript feather in the cap of those benefitting from urban sprawl." (More information about sprawl can be found elsewhere in this tour.)

As new residents continue to move into the county, their connection to its past is lacking and their desire to preserve the extraordinary history Bucks County has to offer is weak. So it may not be surprising that the fate of the burned Mood's Covered bridge was, for a time,in question. Some residents wanted to rebuild the bridge as a bland, modern structure, citing the need for faster and easier access across the creek the bridge crosses. One may wonder why such individuals chose to move to the area if they care so little about its unique character. Nevertheless, those in support of rebuilding the bridge won the battle and the community chose to rebuild what was so selfishly destroyed. The cost of the repairs was nearly $800,000 (about half of which was to be covered by the arsonists) and the bridge re-opened to traffic in February 2007.

Arson seems to be a perpetual problem for these bridges. In August 2004, the Knecht's Covered Bridge (built 1873) in Springfield township suffered from significant fire damage after two 19 year old men set fire to a support beam with a cigarette lighter, causing $70,000 in damage. The bridge was set ablaze again in May 2007, although the damage was less significant. Another of Bucks County's former covered Bridges, the Haupt's Mill Covered Bridged (built in 1875), was burned by an arsonist in 1985 and was never rebuilt.

The Cabin Run covered bridge was built in 1871 and is 82 feet long. It spans the Cabin Run Creek.

Another view of the Cabin Run bridge.

A view of the interior wall of the bridge, showing the intricate wooden construction technique used to built the bridge.

Another interior view of the Cabin Run bridge, showing part of the wall and the roof.

This white bridge is the Loux covered Bridge. Like the Cabin Run bridge, it also crosses the Cabin Run Creek. This bridge was built in 1874.

Another view of the Loux covered bridge.

A side view of the Loux bridge

The scenery surrounding the Loux Bridge.

The Frankenfield covered bridge. It was built in 1872 and is 130 feet long. It spans the Tinicum Creek a couple of miles before it drains into the Delaware River.

Another view of the Frankenfield bridge.

Another view of the Frankenfield bridge.

This is the Pine Valley Covered Bridge, which is located near New Britain. It is 81 feet long and was built in 1842 of hemlock and pine timber. It spans Pine Run stream which may have been named for the white pine which were once abundant near the stream.

When this photo was taken in October 2006, the Pine Valley bridge was undergoing renovations, which is why part of the face of the bridge appears to be missing.

A small pond in the park adjacent to the Pine Valley covered bridge.

This is the Van Sandt Covered Bridge. It was built in 1875 and is 86 feet long. It spans Pidcock Creek which was named for John Pidcock who moved to the area sometime before 1698.

Another covered bridge, the Neelys Mill Bridge, also once spanned Pidcock creek along River Road but was removed in 1937 and replaced by a concrete structure--progress!

The Van Sandt bridge was recently been visited by a group of ghost-hunters. Rumor has it that horse thieves were once hung from the rafters of the bridge, and it's thought that the bridge may be haunted, perhaps by the souls of those were executed there. Some claim they have seen strange silhoutettes and shadows, and even the sounds of rope sliding over wood, like the sound of a tightening noose. Apparently, candles were all it took to provide protection for this group of ghost-chasers.

The underside of the bridge has been reinforced with steel beams in order to handle modern day traffic.

The wooden structure along the inside of the bridge has been tarnished with graffiti. There must be something about covered bridges that makes people forget about their historic and aesthetic significance and instead want to burn or deface them.

Looking down the road towards the bridge. The green sign with yellow lettering to the right states: "This Private Property Permanently Preserved by Landowner and the Solebury Township Land Preservation Program." Hopefully, this view will remain unspoiled by housing developments and sprawl for generations to come.

This is the Uhlerstown covered bridge which is 101 feet long and was built in 1832. This one is unusual in that it crosses the Delaware Canal instead of a stream.

This Uhlerstown covered bridge with a large hill as the backdrop.

A side view of the bridge. At the time this photograph was taken in October 2006, the canal that it spans was dry.

When the two small photos above were taken in May 1998 water was flowing under the bridge.

Farm fields near the Uhlerstown bridge. They are no crops because the photo was taken in October 2006.

 
Photo by Wayne Miller, January 2009
 
The Erwinna Covered Bridge is Bucks County's shortest covered bridge. It is only 56 feet long and was built around 1871, although some sources state that it may be from as early as 1832. It crosses the Lodi Creek in Erwinna.

 
Photo by Wayne Miller, January 2009
 
Another view of the Erwinna Covered Bridge.

 
Photographer Unknown
 
The Erwinna Covered Bridge from a 1960's postcard. At the time farms surrounded the bridge.

 
Photo by Wayne Miller, January 2009
 
The Erwinna Covered Bridge now has homes nearby where farmland once existed. The caption inside the photo, provided by photographer Wayne Miller, states, "Rolling Hills Estates: From the bridge, McMansions can be seen on the Hankin Farm, just outside of Erwinna."

 
Photo by Wayne Miller, January 2009
 
The Rolling Hills Estates, now near the Erwinna Covered Bridge. The caption inside the photo, provided by photographer Wayne Miller, states, "Walk through the Erwinna Covered Bridge and this is your view up the hill. Rolling Hills Estates."

 
Artist Unknown. Photo by Mary Jayne Corley, April 2010
 
This is a photograph of a print of the Kratz's Mill Covered Bridge. It was 140 feet long and was built in 1848 and demolished in 1930. It crossed the Tohickon Creek between Bedminster and Tinicum. The Kratz family came from Germany in the 1790's.

 
Photo by David Hanauer, August 2014
 
This is the Schofield Ford covered bridge, located in Tyler State Park. Because it is situated in the park and no cars are allowed it offers a perspective that is probably closer to the original context of the bridges rather than those that are now situated on paved roads. The original bridge was built in 1873 but burned by vandals in 1991. It was rebuilt by volunteers with an appreciation for the history of the bridge. It is almost the same as the original, but window holes were added to the sides.

 
Photo by David Hanauer, August 2014
 
Another view of the Schofield Ford covered bridge, which crosses the Neshaminy Creek.

 
Photo by David Hanauer, August 2014
 
The Schofield Ford covered bridge is about 170 feet long, the longest of any covered bridge in Bucks County.

 
Photo by David Hanauer, August 2014
 
Another view of the Schofield Ford covered bridge.

 
Photo by David Hanauer, August 2014
 
A view of the interior of the Schofield Ford covered bridge, showing its intricate wooden construction.

 
Photographer Unknown. Courtesy of Mitch Bunkin
 
This is a 1908 photograph of the Randt's Mill Covered Bridge that used to span the Tohickon Creek between Bedminster and Tinicum townships.