Along the Way: Salt Creek Covered Bridge

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Salt Creek Covered Bridge, Zanesville, Ohio

My plans for the morning were quickly falling apart. The original plan was to spend the morning in Zanesville, exploring the town and its surroundings. Zanesville, the county seat of Muskingum County, served as the second state capital of Ohio from 1810-1812.  The city is named in honor of the Zane family who settled here. Novelist Zane Grey, who was descended from the founding family, was born here in 1872. I arrived in town only to get detoured due to some big event that was going on, but I never did figure out exactly what the big event was.

With dark clouds on the horizon, I scrolled through my list of things to visit in the region. I settled on a covered bridge a little further east. I set out for the bridge as the dark clouds quickly blanketed the previously clear sky.

Rather than the more direct route, the GPS had me taking numerous winding, narrow country roads which had some very sharp turns on them. After a twenty minute drive I finally spotted my destination ahead of me on the left. Note: I’m not sure why the GPS took me on the route it did, but when I left the covered bridge it took less than ten minutes to drive to the exact spot where I turned off of Route 40. Though the trip to the covered bridge was not the direct one, the drive was worth it because I saw a number of deer and a flock of turkeys as I followed the circuitous route.

I found a parking spot in a small pull-off area that had been part of the original road before the bridge was detoured by the current one. I had only taken a couple of steps before the dark skies let go and the cold rain fell. I dashed quickly for the bridge and found a place to stay dry. The sound of the rain hitting the tin roof was comforting, though I hoped that the shower would pass quickly.

Located along Arch Hill Road, the Salt Creek Covered Bridge, also known as Johnson Mill Covered Bridge after the community that once existed here, is one of two remaining in Muskingum County. Built in 1876, the covered bridge spans Big Salt Creek with a length of eighty-seven feet. It was erected with a Warren Truss and is the only remaining covered bridge with a pure Warren Truss design in the United States.

Although the Salt Creek Covered Bridge was originally built in 1876, it was not covered until 1879. In 1953 the bridge was bypassed by Arch Hill Road and the bridge reverted to the property owner. The Southern Ohio Covered Bridge Association, formed in 1960, purchased the bridge, replacing the roof with a tin one in 1962.  The covered bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and, in order to get funding for upkeep, ownership was transferred to the county in 1995.

The rain stopped as quickly as it started and I walked over to the Ohio State Historical Marker that mentioned the importance of covered bridges and also a brief history of the Salt Creek Covered Bridge. A plaque on a stone next to the bridge also provided some information about the bridge.

After taking a couple more pictures of the bridge, I was interrupted by the distant sound of thunder. Another, this time much closer, rumble of thunder filled the air and I knew my time at the Salt Creek Covered Bridge had come to an end. I left the peaceful location, barely making it back to the vehicle before the cold raindrops began to fall, knowing if i was back in the region I would definitely be visiting the covered bridge again.

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