Located just north of Harrisburg, the grounds of Fort Hunter were void of other people as I drove through the parking lot and to the back of the park. Having been past here many times on Route 322, I had only visited the historic grounds once many years ago, before the covered bridge was recreated. With nobody around, I was able to park just a short distance from the bridge.
I stepped out into the cool air and stretched, taking in the early morning sun. The peacefulness of the morning was broken only by the passing of traffic on Route 322.
The historic grounds overlook the Susquehanna River just north of the Rockville Bridge. Originally settled in 1725 by Benjamin Chambers, and would be inherited by Samuel Hunter, and the area quickly became known as Hunter’s Mill. In 1787 Captain Archibald McAllister purchased the lands, including the abandoned fort, Hunter’s mill and farm. Under McAllister’s guidance the region grew and prospered.
That morning was not to tour the historic grounds, but to photograph one particular feature that exists on the museum property. The covered bridge, known locally as Fort Hunter Covered Bridge, was what brought me to the park that morning. The official name of the historic bridge is Everhart Covered Bridge and it has a length of thirty-six feet with a multiple kingpost truss design. The bridge is closed to vehicles, but is open for the public to walk through and explore.
The Everhart Covered Bridge does not stand at its original location, nor does it stand in its second location – this is the third location where the bridge stood. Originally erected over seventeen miles away (as the crow flies) in Perry County, the bridge crossed Little Buffalo Creek near the western border of present-day Little Buffalo State Park. Erected in 1880, the original Everhart Covered Bridge had a length fifty-three feet.
Due to lack of care over the years, it was decided to replace the covered bridge with a modern one. In 1940, Mrs. Margaret Wister Meigs was searching for a covered bridge to place on the grounds of the Fort Hunter Museum. Discovering the Everhart Covered Bridge was about to be demolished, she purchased the bridge for seventy dollars. She had the bridge dismantled and moved to the front of the museum grounds. When rebuilt, the bridge’s length was reduced to the present thirty-six feet, but the roof remained at fifty-three feet. Note: I have not discovered an exact reason why the length of the bridge was shortened, but I believe it had was due to the poor condition of the bridge at the time.
Though the bridge survived the flooding from Tropical Storm Agnes in June 1972, it was decided to have the bridge dismantled due to it worsening condition. The bridge was taken apart and placed in storage. In 1980, steps began to rebuild the bridge, but it was discovered that due to being dismantled twice and sitting in storage the wood rotted and the original structure could not be rebuilt. In 2006, the Everhart Covered Bridge was recreated on the grounds on Fort Hunter, where it still stands.
As finished photographing the bridge another car pulled into the lot. A young couple with children got out and started over towards the bridge. I could see the young man was carrying a camera as they paused at the nearby sign which tells the history of the bridge. I listened as the older of the two children read the sign aloud and knowing they wanted the time to explore and take pictures, I left the bridge to them as I headed out to explore more of the region.