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The Bridges of Bedford County and Defying Gravity

June 20 & 21, 2016                                                                                     Most Recent Posts:
Monday & Tuesday                                                            There’s the Good News and Then There’s the Bad News
Shawnee State Parak                                                                    Hiking in and Near Charlottesville
Schellsburg, Pennsylvania



Site 252 - nice but too near the turnpike (1)

On Monday we leave Endless Caverns again with two drivers since we cannot really tow with the dolly until we get the light back on the right side fender.   It’s 149 miles to Shawnee State Park.  We’ve been here before during the great solar fiasco but this time we have a really lovely pull through site.  EXCEPT that it is almost within sight of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  In the winter, it probably would be. 

Trying to pick up my 10,000 steps, I walk around the very large campground with 7 loops. I find a site I really like in the G Loop.  No noise, level pull through. beautiful “ front yard” and with a water spigot in the back yard.  The park has electricity, 50 amp and 30, but you have to take on water from the spigots spaced around the loops.  The park also has a 4 station dump site.   

After two visits here, I think this will be our last but I write the site number G-300 down just in case.  Shawnee has been on our path to other places twice now so who knows.

Visually it’s beautiful sitting here in my chair reading.  But then in the background is the sound of the cars on the turnpike. But for 3 nights, it is what it is.

Site 252 - nice but too near the turnpike (4)


I have walked most of the trails here in the park previously so on Tuesday I want to check out some of Pennsylvania’s famous covered bridges.  Shawnee is located in Bedford County.  The county has 14 covered bridges.  9 of them are near enough by that I can make a driving loop out of them so off we go.

I’m not sure why everyone, including me,  loves covered bridges but nearly everyone I’ve met does.  Something about a simpler time?


The first one on the tour is the Claycomb covered bridge which stands at the entrance to Old Bedford Village a living history museum of Central Pennsylvania. 

The bridge was built in 1880 in Reynoldsdale PA and moved here in 1975.  That must have been quite an endeavor.  It’s 126 feet long but only 12’ 6” high which is just a tad too short for Winnona and taller than most of the other bridges we see today.





As you can see from the skies, and the wet wooden planks, it is drizzling.



We might have taken in Old Bedford Village on a nicer day.  The little covered wagon  just beyond their entry is cute but looks like a “sampler” in comparison with the “real” ones.



Pretty dark with its enclosed sides and cedar shake roof.
All of the other bridges have metal roofs.


  Bowser Covered Bridge, built in 1890, functioned until 1973 when a modern bridge was built beside it. So sadly we cannot drive through this one. Very airy with its open sides and metal roof.   The structural arches of some bridges are only on the inside but Bowser has both inside and outside arches. 








The view here over the fields of the Pennsylvania hills is lovely.  The rain has let up but the dark clouds threaten.




After walking through the bridge I can see Ruby waiting on the other side.





Snook’s Covered Bridge was complete for the September 1883 inspection.  Charles W. Wolf and William Imler did the bridge’s masonry work for $273 and Bedford County paid $880 for the superstructure.  The bridge is 82’ long and 11’ high.  I guess the entrance sign is to make certain no one too tall damages the bridge.  I hope that is a precaution and not the result of experience.

$1153 for a covered bridge.  Seems amazingly inexpensive but probably not in 1883.



We’ve pulled over to the side of the bridge to take a look before driving through but the rain pours down keeping us in the car for a while.  David makes use of the time to call Demco and have a new fender sent to us in New York.  Hopefully he can install it so we can use the dolly again. 




The rain stops, we get out and take some pictures and through the bridge we go.  Funny that we say through a covered bridge and over other types.



I learned that these are called Burr Arch truss covered bridges.  The Burr Arch was invented by Theodore Burr in 1804 and patented in 1817.  I suspect Mr. Burr made some money off of this patent.





Next is the only bridge we see today which is privately owned.  It’s called the Dr. Knisely Covered Bridge.  Not sure who Dr. Knisely was or perhaps he’s the one who owns the bridge now. It is no longer in use obviously but still spans the water and I wonder where it used to go to and from.  It is 80’ long and was built in 1867 just after the Civil War.  Civil War battles in  Chambersburg, Fairfield and Gettysburg were fought less than 100 miles from here.




This bridge looks like the Bowser, the first one we saw, with the Burr arch trusses on inside and out.  The painting is slightly different. 






Here we spot our first two wildlife of the day.  They look a little wet themselves.










The Ryot Covered bridge is a sad tale of our times.  83 feet long it crosses Dunnings Creek.  The bridge was constructed in 1867 and underwent a major restoration in 1995.  In 2002 an arsonist burned the bridge and happily the county voted to rebuild it.  It was completed in 2004.  Based on a picture we saw of the original bridge, it looks exactly like it except of course the wood is not the same.  Why in the world would someone want to destroy such a lovely historic structure? 







Here comes Ruby.  Notice the second level of planks for vehicles to drive on.  Those were not in the Knisely bridge we just saw which is no longer used.



The Ryot bridge also has the warning frame before the entrance on both ends.  What an idylic view beyond.



This time we can’t go through the bridge and on to the next, we have to turn around and go back through again.
Oh what a shame.







In the middle of our Covered Bridge drive we take a detour to drive the famous Gravity Hill Road.  It’s billed as “a phenomenon where cars roll uphill.  It’s a place where gravity has gone haywire”. 

Well with that description who would want to miss it? So we follow the directions and come to GH painted on the road.  We are instructed to go past the first GH about 1/10 mile and stop before we get to the second spray painted “GH”. 

Then put the car in neutral (after checking behind you for oncoming traffic, of course) and take your foot off the brake. Your car will roll, uphill. 

This is a silly idea but we do it and we are laughing our heads off.  It works.  There is a second Gravity Hill, just 3/10 mile past the second, spray painted, “GH” so we do it again.  It’s just hilarious.  What’s going on?  We don’t know.  This picture is the only one I took but I did a video which I tried to put up since it is so funny and you really have to see it to believe it. 

But I couldn’t get live writer to accept its address.  Does anyone know how to embed a video into an OLW post?   When I use the choice on the bar,  Video:  and then From the Web, it says the URL has an unknown provider or an invalid address.  Neither of those is true obviously.   What’s up here? Does anyone know?    I’d sure rather the video ran directly from here.

If you want to see it, the link will take you to the utube site for the video.  I suggest for full effect that you make it full screen by clicking the little box thing on the bottom right hand corner.  Hope it makes you laugh too.  We highly recommend a Gravity Hill experience over other ways to defy gravity such as taking a space shuttle.

Click HERE for the link.


OK after that break for some foolishness back to our last 3 bridges.

The Colvin Covered Bridge was built in 1894 and crosses the Shawnee Creek which for a creek is pretty good size.  The bridge is 66 feet long and we drive right through it.  This bridge is the most open one we see today.   It has no Burr Arch Truss. 




The stone work on the foundation is very nice.










Turner’s Covered Bridge is 89 foot long 12’ tall, with low side panels and open sides.  Its construction date is believed to be 1892. Apparently no one knows for sure.  It spans the Raystown branch of the Juniata River.






There she goes.


Here she comes.



I sure wish they hadn’t covered up this old sign with the Clearance one.  $5 fine for what?  Driving over what?  Faster than what?  $5 fine would be a mighty long time ago.



These pictures make the bridge look in the same excellent condition as the others but unfortunately that’s not so.



There is all kinds of obnoxious teenage writing and carving on the bridge as well as what I hope is a rotting arch and not one that has been defaced by someone.   The county really needs to get restoration started on this bridge before it is too late.






This house is a straight shot at the end the bridge.  I wonder how many tourists end up in their driveway thinking the road goes on through.





Our final bridge is the Herline Covered Bridge.  At 136 feet, this is the longest of all of the covered bridges in Bedford County. The Herline Covered Bridge crosses the Raystown branch of the Juniata River.  It was built in 1902 and refurbished in 1997.

This is about the best picture of its length we could get.



Another separate arch warning sign.  At 10’ 2” I think this may be the shortest of the bridges today.





Notice the double arch here.  It’s a long bridge.






So there you have it.  The Bridges of Bedford County.  Even though we didn’t see Clint Eastwood or Meryl Streep we had a wonderful time finding and inspecting them all.   Which one is your favorite?


  1. I enjoyed them all!
    Great tour of a part of history in those parts.
    Nice you played with mind bender road. San Antonio has one also.

  2. We are at exit 180 and can see the cars and trucks on the turnpike. We did the Bridges of Madison County in Iowa twice in one day. I thought I lost my phone at one of the bridges and returned to all of them only to find the phone under the front seat.

  3. I love this post looking at all the bridges in Pennsylvania where I live there was one right within 5 miles of me and I grew up with it and did not appreciate it and the early sixties when I was first married it was still functioning Bridge one lane I don't think our car as of today could go through it so small looking... I also love feasting my eyes on all the greenery especially in Pennsylvania I love the green landscape... granted there is green in Florida but not like Pennsylvania thanks for the tour

  4. My mother loved covered bridges but didn't get to see these. I'll have to go visit them for her! I've only seen red and wooden ones so the white bridges are a real treat. The trusses and arches are beautiful. Thank you so much for all the pics and details, I loved this day trip! Gravity Hill sounds like great fun. I don't think I want to know what "causes" it :-)))))

  5. I loved your covered Bridge tour. As you know, we did the same in Oregon only spent many days doing it. The covered bridges of the northeast are on our bucket list. I love the various types of trusses and construction. Gravity Hill is crazy.

  6. Of course since the Bridges of Madison County came out so many years ago, I think it spurred on the romanticism of covered bridges. I know that there is a covered bridge festival put on by Knoebel's Family amusement park which is a few hours away from Bedford County. There are lots of the bridges in PA. Nice tour and photos!

  7. We enjoy covered bridges, in fact we probably saw 90+ of the 100 or so covered bridges in VT, sadly a few were lost to Hurricane Irene. For many years we spent Mother's Day with my folks traveling around the state visiting covered bridges. There is a book on VT covered bridges giving locations, dates, style and history.

  8. I like a covered bridge too, I like thinking of the small communities who needed them and how much they meant to them when they were built.

  9. Glad you are enjoying our home state:) We certainly have a lot of covered bridges throughout the state. You saw a lot of beautiful bridges. Our friends were in that area the other week and had a great time on Gravity Hill, too!!

  10. Cool bridges and I like the pictures that you took looking through them. I was disappointed that a bridge close to us that used to be wooden (not covered), is not asphalt. Love the chipmunk. There used to be lots of them in MD. when I was a kid but I've never seen one in VA. Why not? There's a covered brdige in Kitty Hawk that we have kayaked under many times. Have fun! xxxooo

  11. What lovely pictures of the bridges. We have a hill in Florida near us that does the same hing. You can roll uphill. It is interesting. Didn't comment last post but great pictures of the baby. She is such a cutie and so alert.

  12. Some beautiful bridges here. There's a covered bridge not that far from here on the Quebec side of the river. It's pedestrians only now. The original burned back in the eighties, and the villagers raised enough money to rebuild.

  13. I always have thought Pennsylvania is a beautiful state, and covered bridges are lovely, wherever they are. When I was a teen there was supposedly a hill near Cincinnati where a car could roll uphill. I never saw it, and never did believe it!

  14. Not only was your post on the bridges just amazing, I stand in awe at the research you did just to find them all! A wonderful day doing a different kind of exploring the great outdoors. :c)

  15. What an interesting day! There's definitely something about the covered bridges that harkens back to a simpler time. Ruby is just the right size for this adventure. I tried to watch your video—but it said "private." But Gravity Hill sounds like fun!

  16. I like the Colvin bridge for its unique angled bracing which is hard to describe, but it is quite different from all the others bridges with the arches. Hard to realize what a high tech engineering feat this was at the time with everything done by manual labor or with the aid of horses and mules. What a fun bunch of bridges!

  17. Wow, that was a full day of bridges. I like the Claycomb and the Colvin best, don't know why. What idiots to burn a historic bridge. Your video is a gas, with no pun intended. But how does that happen? Plus I love hearing your voice to go with you photo and stories.

  18. Lovely bridges!! And, lovely to hear your laugh on that gravity hill video :) How odd...I wonder who initially discovered that? Lucky that road doesn't have a lot of traffic. Gravity gone haywire..what a hoot! Dr. Knisely...is that pronounced 'nicely'?? It is a nicely covered bridge - lol ;)

  19. That's a lot of covered bridges! For a moment I thought you were already n Vermont. I too would like to see your video on Gravity Hill, it must be hilarious.


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