Along the Way: Pinetown Covered Bridge

Note: Before I share the legend of the Pinetown Covered Bridge, I strongly advise against attempting the dangerous steps “required to make the ghost appear.” Parking in any covered bridge in the middle of the night and turning off the vehicle’s lights is extremely dangerous.

“Ever hear of the ghost of the Pinetown Bridge?” Kelly asked.

“No, I’m not familiar with that legend,” I admitted. At the time, not only had I never heard of the legend, I did not even know where the Pinetown Covered Bridge was located.

“I was always told that it was haunted by the ghost of a young Amish girl who lived on a nearby farm. One day she was bouncing a ball on the bridge and it fell into the river. She attempted to recover the ball, but drowned.

“She still haunts the bridge. If you go at night, park on the bridge, turn your car and lights off, you can hear her still bouncing the ball on the bridge. I had a friend who went there one night and the next morning her car was covered in hand prints.”

I arrived at the Pinetown Covered Bridge to photograph it, but Kelly’s story was still fresh in my mind though it had been a couple months since we had talked. The bridge stands at the intersection of Bridge, Pinetown, Creek and Butter Roads. The bridge itself is located on Bridge Road at the multi-road intersection and there is no parking on the western side of the bridge. Passing through the covered bridge, I found a place to safely park a short distance away on the eastern side of the bridge. I got out of the vehicle and carefully crossed the busy road.

The Pinetown Covered Bridge spans the Conestoga River with a length of one hundred and thirty-three feet. The bridge features a single span with double Burr Arch truss. The bridge gets its name from the collection of houses known as Pinetown, north of Lancaster near the community of Oregon. The bridge crosses over the Conestoga River and is known by a number of different names including Bushong’s Mill Covered Bridge, Big Conestoga #6 Bridge, Amish Bridge, and Nolte’s Point Mill Bridge.

The bridge was originally constructed in 1867 by Elias McMellen. The bridge was destroyed in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes and floated almost a mile downstream. It was rebuilt the following year by members of the local Amish community. The reconstruction raised the bridge as an attempt to prevent future flood damage. Unfortunately, it was damaged by Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 was moved by the flood waters to a spot along Butter Road near the Forty and Eight Club. The bridge drifted down the Conestoga River, somehow missed colliding with the Hunsecker Covered Bridge, floating around it on the flood waters, and continuing downstream. The bridge would be rebuilt and reopened in January 2014.

As I photographed the bridge, I noted the interior of the bridge allows for a single car to pass through it and there is no walkway to allow pedestrians to safely pass through the bridge.

My mind wandered back to the legend that Kelly had told me. The legend is similar to many other stories about haunted locations – park at the haunted spot, turn off your vehicle and lights and the ghost will appear. The next morning the vehicle will be covered with small hand prints from the ghost trying to get into the vehicle. The story that is told is an variation of the urban legend. Looking at the handful of sources that mention the legend, the story of the ghost child does not appear to exist pre-1980s and if it did, I cannot find a definite mention of it.

Scanning through newspapers, I have yet to come across a mention of a drowning at the bridge. I have found a number of articles telling of vehicles going into the river near the bridge, but none of them resulted in a death.

Note: What follows are personal observations and are my thoughts and opinions. I did have a couple observations that may be possible explanations for the mysterious sounds heard. The first is traffic from Route 222 can be plainly heard from the bridge. I’m wondering if part of the strange sounds reported being heard in the bridge is a result of passing traffic. The second thing is when vehicles enter and exit the bridge, there is a sound that could be mistaken for something hitting the bridge, such as a large ball.

During my visit, I did not park within the bridge nor did I shut off my engine and lights, but standing in the cool evening air, I enjoyed the historic bridge in its rural setting. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so with no answers, I left the bridge in the peaceful stillness of the evening air.

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