Sunday, July 13, 2014

Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County

Harpersfield Bridge - Photos by OHventures

Ashtabula County, located in the northeastern-most corner of Ohio, is the epicenter of covered bridges in the state. With a total of 18 of these historic structures, Ashtabula has more than any other county in Ohio, helping it to fittingly earning the title of the Covered Bridge Capital of Ohio. Another claim to fame is that one can find both the longest and the shortest functioning covered bridges in the entire United States right here!

Covered bridges seem to have an alluring element to them - they are built with exquisite architecture that is not often found in modern times. Driving through the "tunnels" spices up any road trip, and gawking at the rustic wooden masterpieces creates awe and excitement for you and your fellow travelers.

You can hop in the car and take along with you an official map of all of the covered bridges in Ashtabula County, planning your path through the countryside that will get you to see the most covered bridges possible. Or, if you happen to be partaking in the wine shuttle tour provided by the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, you can ask your driver to take you to a few of the bridges on your way to and from the local wineries. 

Another great way to see a large amount of covered bridges is to take a self-guided tour by following the special bridge tour signs that are posted throughout the county. Only one is a non-drivable bridge - The Graham Road bridge. This one sits on the side of the road and is able to be walked through

Two bridges we suggest you include on your trip are the Harpersfield Bridge and the West Liberty Street Bridge.

The Harpersfield Bridge was built in 1868 and, until 2008, was the longest covered bridge in Ohio at 228 feet long. The Howe Truss design bridge is still the second largest in Ohio, but takes a backseat to the Smolen-Gulf Bridge, which is the longest covered bridge in the nation and the fourth longest covered bridge in the world with an impressive 613 feet. Even through it is no longer the longest, the Harpersfield Bridge is still a great point of interest, and is an ideal spot for fishing or picnicking. 

The other bridge of note that we suggest to visit is the West Liberty Street Bridge, which is the shortest functioning covered bridge in the country! With just a span of 18 feet in length, it is honestly a bit comical when you see it! But it is also impressive to know that it was built by the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School carpentry and construction students, and to know that the timber was grown locally. Not only is it the shortest bridge, but also the newest in the county, having been built in 2011.

West Liberty Street Bridge

If you can't get enough covered bridges, try marking your calendar for the Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Festival, which takes place every October!

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