At one time, hundreds of covered bridges dotted the northeast Ohio countryside. A popular construction in 18th century Connecticut, the early settlers of the (Connecticut) Western Reserve brought this unique and charming architecture with them from New England. Today, fewer than 50 of these bridges exist, with the largest concentration being in Ashtabula County, an hour's drive east of downtown Cleveland.
Ashtabula County has seventeen excellent examples of original, restored, and replicas of 19th century covered bridges in a variety of constructions. All can be viewed by driving along the county's charming country roads. You can get a driving map and more history of the bridges from the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival Committee.
Ashtabula County celebrates their covered bridges each autumn with the Covered Bridge Festival, held the 2nd full weekend of October each year. The festival, held at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds, features crafts, official covered bridge souvenirs, a quilt show, contests, a parade, food, and lots more.
The first bridge on our covered bridge tour, the Netcher Road Bridge, is also the newest. The bridge, built in 1999, follows traditional inverted Haupt truss construction in a Neo-Victorian design. The Netcher Road Bridge spans Mill Creek in Jefferson Township, 2.7 miles from the town of Jefferson. It is 110 feet long, 22 feet wide, and 14 1/2 feet high.
South Denmark Road Bridge
The South Denmark Road Bridge, built in 1890, spans Mill Creek. The 81-foot bridge is an example of Town Lattice construction. The bridge was bypassed for auto traffic in 1975 but remains easily accessible on foot. The South Denmark Road Bridge is 2.7 miles from the Netcher Road Bridge.
State Route Bridge
The State Route Bridge, completed in 1983, is one of the newer covered bridges in Ashtabula County. It's dedication marked the beginning of the first annual Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, now held each October.
The 152-foot bridge, which crosses Conneaut Creek, contained 97,000 feet of southern pine and oak and is constructed in the Town Lattice method. The bridge is open to auto and pedestrian traffic.
Creek Road Bridge
The Creek Road Bridge, restored in 1994, sits 25 feet over Conneaut Creek. The charming 125-foot long bridge is an excellent example of Town Lattice construction. The Creek Road Bridge is open to auto and pedestrian traffic.
The Harpersfield Bridge
The Harpersfield Bridge, at 228 feet, was the longest covered bridge in Ohio for years until the addition of the Smolen-Gulf Bridge in 2008 (see next page). Constructed in 1868, the Harpersfield Bridge spans the Grand River in western Ashtabula County and is an example of Howe Truss construction. The bridge, which is open to traffic, was restored in 1992.
This 114-foot long Town lattice bridge spans the winding Grand River in southwestern Ashtabula County. Originally constructed in 1874, the Riverdale Bridge was rebuilt in 1981 and glue laminate wood girders were added. Still, much of the bridge's 19th charm remains.
Mechanicsville Road Bridge
The Mechanicsville Road Bridge, near Austinburg Ohio, is the longest single span covered bridge in Ashtabula County. The 156-foot, Howe truss bridge with the arch was built over the Grand River in 1867. The bridge was renovated and opened to motor traffic in 2003.
Graham Road Bridge
The Graham Road Bridge, located just off of Stanhope-Kelloggsville Road in East-Central Ashtabula County, sits in the middle of a field, no longer a bridge at all. The charming structure, a 97-foot Town Truss bridge, was rebuilt from remnants that washed downstream after the 1913 flood. It originally sat over the Ashtabula River in Pierpont Township.
Opened in the fall of 2008, the 613-foot Smolen-Gulf Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the United States. It is named for John Smolen, former Ashtabula County engineer and a strong advocate for preserving the covered bridges of the county.