As I toured the covered bridges of Ashtabula County, I was amazed by their differences. Though very similar in structure, each had its own personality. The longest covered bridge in the United States and the shortest recognized covered bridges exist within the county. One bridge that definitely stood out on the journey is one that is not used as a covered bridge anymore. Though it looks like a covered bridge, was once a covered bridge, it now acts as a pavilion, complete with a table within it for visitors to sit and eat.
I arrived at the Graham Road Covered Bridge, which sits in one of Ashtabula County’s MetroParks, and pulled to the edge of the road. In the middle of a well-kept field, resting on supports made of cinder blocks, sat the covered bridge. I walked over to the western end of the bridge where steps led into the bridge. Seeing there was a table at the other end that was not being used, I grabbed my lunch before entering the bridge. The boards creaked beneath me as I walked the length of the bridge. The view from the eastern end of the bridge was of the West Branch of the Ashtabula River, and the spot it once spanned. Note: for some reason, many articles state the bridge spanned the East Branch of the Ashtabula River, maps clearly show it is the West Branch.
While eating my lunch, I turned my thoughts to the history of this bridge.
The bridge was originally erected as the Callender Road Covered Bridge in Rome Township, west of the current location. It was built in 1867 where it spanned the Grand River. The bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1913 and replaced with a modern bridge. In the aftermath, the timbers were gathered and taken to the current location and rebuilt, having a single span, a Town truss with a length of eighty-five feet.
Note: I came across a reference for another covered bridge on Callender Road that crossed Rock Creek. Built in 1870, this bridge was purchased and burned in 1966 when it was decided it was too expensive to move it. The location where this bridge stood is now under the waters of Lake Roaming Rock. This covered bridge was located east of the one destroyed by the 1913 flood.
The rebuilt bridge was never strong enough to carry heavy loads and farmers were known to ford the river rather than attempt crossing the bridge. By 1970 the bridge could not be safely used and the decision was made to replace it with a modern bridge. A piece of land near the bridge was donated and in 1971 the covered bridge was placed on rollers and moved to its current location as the center piece of the MetroPark.
I finished eating my lunch as another vehicle pulled in behind mine. I heard numerous doors opening and closing and the sound of children laughing. “Can we join you?” the young man, followed by two children, asked as he stepped into the shade of the bridge’s interior. I actually recognized the family as one I had encountered earlier in the day as I visited another covered bridge in the region.
“I’m actually done,” I responded. “The table is yours.” We talked for a couple minutes as I finished cleaning up and they began setting the table for their meal. They planned on visiting a couple more covered bridges, but were planning on finishing the covered bridge tour the following day. I wished them a safe journey as I left them to enjoy their time at the bridge as I headed to visit another covered bridge just a short distance away.