I’ve always been amazed by how much we miss on our every day travels. As we go about our business, speeding along on major roadways, the history that sits just off these busy roads is often overlooked, forgotten and ignored. I have quit counting the number of times I have traveled Route 6 and had passed by interesting and historical places just a short distance from the main route across northern Pennsylvania.
While recently traveling through Bradford County, I was encouraged by a friend to make a slight detour to visit the only remaining covered bridge in the county. When I was told there was a covered bridge in Bradford County, I had to admit I was surprised. I, like many others, think of the southern portion of the state when I think about covered bridges and had never considered one to be hiding just a short drive. north of Route 6.
Turning onto Kendall Hill Road, I crossed over Sugar Creek and turned onto Covered Bridge Road. Note: As I was looking into the history of the bridge, I discovered there were two different covered bridges that once stood at Luther Mills and both appear to have been referred to as either Knapp’s or Luther Mills Covered Bridge. This other bridge is believed to have existed in the area where the modern bridge on Kendall Hill Road crosses over Sugar Creek.
Following Covered Bridge Road from Route 6, the bridge quickly came into view. Though there was not much parking, there were a couple places on the western side of the bridge where I could safely pull off of the road.
Also known as Luther Mills Covered Bridge and Brown’s Creek Covered Bridge, Knapp’s Covered Bridge has a single span that crosses over the waters of Brown’s Creek. It features a Burr truss design and a short outer wall that protects the base of the bridge. The ninety-five-foot long bridge sits thirty feet above the waters of Brown’s Creek, making it the highest covered bridge above water within the borders of Pennsylvania. The bridge sits in an ideal, pastural setting, just a stone’s throw from Route 6.
Knapp’s Covered Bridge was built in 1853 and would undergo a repairs in 1963. Despite the constant repairs, the covered bridge would eventually be closed due to its deteriorating condition. In 2000 a full restoration of the covered began and is presently open to traffic. Note: A newspaper article from the February 27, 2005 edition of The Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York) states that the original bridge collapsed shortly after being completed and a second bridge was erected at the same location. An August 6, 1961 article from the same newspaper reports the bridge was completely rebuilt in 1915 fur to the deteriorating condition. While other articles report repairs, these are the only two articles I’ve uncovered that state the bridge had been destroyed and rebuilt before the complete restoration in 2000.
The day I visited the covered bridge, it was a busy day. There was a couple who had come down from New York state to visit the covered bridge and were planning on heading to Lancaster to tour those bridges the following day. An older lady walked across the bridge with her grandson – she could now add the bridge to the three hundred plus covered bridges she had walked across. It was a pleasant visit as I got to listen to the stories of other covered bridge enthusiasts and I got to share my stories with them.
I finished photographing the bridge and its surroundings before leaving the peaceful setting and heading back onto Route 6 to continue my day’s journey.