There’s a reason that historic bridges are protected and preserved. Relics of the past remind us that there are different ways of being. After all, spurring a horse-drawn carriage across a covered timber-truss bridge might have been part of your commute to work a hundred years ago. And there’s just something magical about existing alongside these persistent elements of eras we can only imagine, even as a smartphone reads out directions to that newest brewery you and your friends made plans to visit this weekend.
Fairfield County has always been Ohio’s leader when it comes to original covered bridges. And since Ohio was home to roughly 30% of the USA’s original covered bridges, we’re a source that many enthusiasts come to for answers on the subject. Why are these bridges still important in 2022? I’ll put it this way: according to 2018 reporting on the state of the 12,00 covered bridges originally built across the United States, fewer than 1,000 remain. That’s quite a drop.
While at one time Fairfield County held an Ohio record, boasting 279 timber truss bridges, only 17 of them are left. Considering that 17 is still the most of any county in all of Ohio today, our state has lost a lot of amazing architecture over the years. Moreover, when you look at the numbers for the whole of the United States I mentioned above, we’ve lost over 90% of the originals! That’s why they’ve become such a big part of life for so many residents here — they’re not just a piece of our Ohio history, but one of our national history too.
According to the Covered Bridge Society, Pennsylvania has 213, making it the leader. Ohio comes in second with 148 of these historic bridges.
The oldest timber truss covered bridge in the world today is located in Switzerland. The “Kapellbrücke” was originally built in 1365, and it lasted all the way into the mid-1990s before a fire almost took it down and engineers finally had to rebuild it! It’s perhaps the greatest testament we have to show just how sturdy and dependable these historic bridges can be. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore!
Fun fact: The oldest surviving covered bridge in Fairfield County is probably the George Hutchins Bridge, constructed in 1865.
For a truly unique experience, Havens Aviation offers aerial covered bridge tours taking off from the Fairfield County Airport in Lancaster. Buckle up for the experience of a lifetime as a friendly pilot whisks you off across the county for 35 minutes of pure excitement inside a state-of-the-art helicopter. Enjoy dreamy views of Buckeye Lake, Mount Pleasant, and a variety of the county’s covered bridges… the way their builders could never have imagined.
While flying is a fun option, most people opt to experience these magnificent structures up close and in person too. In fact, driving out to take some photos at the Rock Mill or Charles Holliday Bridges on a lazy weekend can be a great way to get to know someone.
There are so many unique options for summer activities in Fairfield County that it’s easy to forget you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. After dinner, why not impress your date with a drive to one or two of the area’s historic covered bridges? A little Ohio history in a Romantic setting is always an excellent (not to mention free) addition to any date itinerary or couples getaway plans in Fairfield County.
Be sure to study up with our Covered Bridge Tour PDF beforehand so you have some fun facts to share about each bridge.
While walking beneath these historic bridges will certainly give you something to talk about, Touring Ohio notes that you may be better off holding your breath — at least while you walk underneath them. That’s because of the legend that goes along with the bridges. See, according to lore, if you make a wish before you walk under a covered timber truss bridge, and if you hold your breath all the way until you reach the other side… your wish will actually come true. And sure, you may be skeptical… but Fairfield County residents have long been wishing for the preservation of these bridges into the modern era. And so far, it’s been working.
Let us know what YOU wish for on your covered bridge tour by tagging us on social @VisitFairfieldCounty and using #FCBridgeLove and #VisitFC!