Along the Way: Herline and Turner Covered Bridges

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Herline Covered Bridge. Insert: Turner Covered Bridge

Note: This is a part of the Bedford County Covered Bridge tour I went on. Each bridge in the tour has directions from the previous bridge. In all, eight covered bridges will be featured in this tour. The tour order is: Osterburg, Snooks, Knisley and Ryot, Cuppett and Gravity Hill, Colvin, Herline and Turner Covered Bridges.

The sky opened up as I was leaving Gravity Hill. The threatening clouds that had lingered at the ridge all day had finally arrived. Having already visited Colvin Covered Bridge in the past, the heavy rain and the wind encouraged me to seek shelter until this was past, so I headed into Bedford for lunch.

Once it was past, I returned westward on Route 30, drove southward of Route 31 for roughly five miles, then turned onto Watson Road. As the road passed over the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I could see the Herline Covered Bridge just ahead of me, crossing over the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. This covered bridge is the longest one in Bedford County with a length of one hundred and thirty-six feet. Built in 1906, the bridge was refurbished in 1997 and remains open to traffic. It has a single span with a Burr Truss design and – unlike the other refurbished bridges in Bedford County – it is painted the traditional red color. The vertical boards protecting the bridge’s structure rise to cover two-thirds of the side.

Also known as the Kinton Covered Bridge, after a nearby landowner, the Herline Covered Bridge, has a ghost story attached to it.the bridge has an interesting history. The February 6, 1874 edition of the Cambria Freeman reports an interesting story that “must have had a serious effect one someone in the Inquirer office” because they published the date of the newspaper as being February instead of January.

The article states that many locals avoid the dreaded Kinton Bridge because it is “believed that the Devil or some other body or thing” has interest in the bridge. The story goes a farmer leaving Manns Choice and headed for home entered the bridge and got halfway when his team of horses stopped, refusing to continue forward.

He finally unhitched the team and lead them out of the bridge before reentering, hoping to back the wagon out. Much to his surprise, the wagon wheels were locked into place. The farmer refused to go home without his wagon and sought help from a man and his son living nearby. The wagon, which normally moved easily, still refused to budge. The farmer gave up, went to mount his horses and as he did, he heard chains attached to the wagon rattle. The spell was broken and he hitched his team to the wagon and they continued home.

The week previous the newspaper article, another man entered the bridge and made it two-thirds of the way across before his buggy halted. The horse tried and tried to move it, but could not. After half and hour, the man gave up and started unhitching the horse. While doing so, the spell was broken and the men quickly rehitched the horse and sped towards home.

There’s only one problem with this story – the story is older than this bridge. A little research showed another covered bridge, also known as Kinton, once existed nearby. This bridge would have been used at the time the story appeared in the newspapers. It was located Where Route 31 crosses over the Raystown Branch a short distance upriver.

The bridge is in a peaceful setting and if the presence that haunted the other bridge moved to this location, it did not affect my vehicle the day of my visit.

Leaving the Herline Covered Bridge, I turned south on Route 31 and followed in for roughly four miles south of Manns Choice. When the GPS screamed to make a sharp right onto Faupel Road, I definitely was not ready for it – what it called a road I thought was a farm lane. I found a place to turn around and as I approached, I could see the bridge in the distance. Carefully driving onto Faupel Road I cringed as the bottom of the vehicle dragged on the drop-off. I followed the road through the covered bridge, turned around at the gate and parked next to the bridge. Before the turnpike was constructed, this road continued through to Shawnee State Park.

The hidden covered bridge is known by many names, including Raystown, Diehl’s or William’s with Diehl’s and Turner’s being the most popular names. It is a single span bridge featuring a Burr Truss, a length of eighty-eight feet, and like the majority of Bedford County’s Covered Bridges, is painted white. It has open sides, with vertical boards covered the very bottom of the bridge. Though it had recently been painted, of all the bridges visited that day in Bedford County, this one needed some major care. Walking across it that day, the boards bounced under my weight, and I regretted driving through it – I was extremely happy once I had the vehicle back through the bridge.

As I left the bridge hidden among the trees lining the banks of the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River, the rain resumed and I turned the vehicle towards home, knowing the rest of the covered bridges were going to have to wait another day.

4 thoughts on “Along the Way: Herline and Turner Covered Bridges

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