Why do covered bridges have roofs

Covered bridges

In the north-east of the USA, it is important to pay attention to the so-called ed Covered Bridges ’, which invite you to go on a little voyage of discovery on a beautiful day. Starting in the 18th century, these wooden gems were created, some of which have been preserved to this day. They were provided with a roof early on to protect them so that the wood could not rot so quickly, because water-repellent materials were not so well known back then. The northeastern United States has a relatively dry climate and is warmer in summer and colder in winter than, for example, Europe. These are good starting conditions for the wood material to be usable even after several years.


The first covered bridge in America was built in 1804 by Theodore Burr of Connecticut and spanned the Hudson in New York. It was called the Waterford Bridge and lasted 105 years. The additional costs of roofing a bridge have often been criticized. But after every accident, for example if a bridge collapsed under the load of a train, all bridges on this train line were retrofitted. The American litigation system already existed then. Customs were levied on these bridges to cover the new, additional costs. Even today there are many bridges (some of which are not covered) that are financed and maintained by private individuals and on which a road fee is charged. These can be found, for example, at the crossings between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Covered bridges can be found mainly in the east of Pennsylvania, but there are still quite a few bridges in other states in the northeast, which are certainly worth a little detour. A distinction is made between “really old” bridges and other covered wooden bridges. Bridges are considered to be really old if they were built before 1900.

Unfortunately, there is only one “really old” Covered Bridge ’left in New Jersey, but it is cherished and has since become a small tourist attraction. They even have their own bike tour that aims at them. If you want to try it out, here is the link: http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/pdf/cbridge.pdf. But before you set out on your way, it is definitely nice to take a closer look at the bridge, here you can find more background information on the 'Last Covered Bridge' in New Jersey: http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us /special/coveredbridge2003.htm.

There are separate websites dedicated to the topic, more for example here on the bridges in Pennsylvania: http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/top/bridge/rambles/dexpage.html. In the USA there is also growing awareness of tradition and the preservation of old cultural assets. Associations have been founded to take care of the covered bridges: in Columbia County in Pennsylvania: http://www.coveredbridges.org/, in New York State: http://www.nycoveredbridges.org/, and in Indiana : http://www.coveredbridges.com/.

Anyone who wants to find out more about ‘Covered Bridges’ in the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey will surely find enough reading material here:

More pictures: Picture 1 [Van Sant Bridge] Picture 2 [Cabin Run Bridge] Picture 3 [Covered Bridge] Picture 4 [Covered Bridge from the inside]