I drove west on Route 653, also known as the Scullton Road, headed to one of Somerset County’s ten covered bridges. Located next to Route 653, King’s Covered Bridge is one of the easiest bridges to visit.
With parking at both sides – there’s a picnic area on the western side and parking only on the eastern side – I parked and got out to explore the historic covered bridge. The drought had taken its toll on the region and the water barely moved among the exposed rocks of Laurel Hill Creek. The floor boards creaked loudly as I entered the dim interior of the covered bridge and the wind whistled as it passed through.
Located between New Lexington and Scullton, King’s Covered Bridge was erected with a single span. Named after the King family, who once owned it, the covered bridge has a length of one hundred and twenty-seven feet and features a Burr truss with multiple kingposts. The King family turned it over to Middle Creek Township in the early 2000s.
Although the bridge underwent restorations in 1906 and again in 2008, it was bypassed by Route 653 in the 1930s. In 1980 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. After being taken over by the township, King’s Covered Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, but it remains open to pedestrian usage.
Note: The date the bridge was erected is highly debated. Information at the bridge states it was originally erected in 1806, If this is the case, then Kings Covered Bridge was erected almost fifty years before any other covered bridge in the region and would have been one of the first covered bridges erected in the United States. The Daily American (somerset, PA) reported in an August 15, 1998 article that the bridge was constructed in 1856. I believe 1856 is the correct date as a majority of the covered bridges built in Somerset County were erected in the mid- to late-1800s. However, there is a possible explanation for the 1806 construction date – that was the date another bridge, not the covered bridge, was erected at this location.
King’s Covered Bridge has had a colorful history. Privately erected, owned and operated by the King family, the bridge was built along a path used by farmers driving sheep and cattle from their fields to town. After the bridge was by-passed, the King family used it as a barn and later, farm machinery was stored within it.
With the sounds of creaking boards and whistling wind, my mind wandered to an article I had recently uncovered. The article made mention of a haunted bridge that spanned the waters of Laurel Hill Creek and I wondered if this was that unidentified covered bridge.
Note: Before I share Doc Moore’s ghost story, I want to clarify – at no point does the story identify King’s Covered Bridge as being the haunted bridge. King’s Covered Bridge – in my opinion – is the most likely of the covered bridges over Laurel Hill Creek to be the haunted bridge due to it being located near New Lexington in Middle Creek Township.
There’s has always been a connection to covered bridges and ghosts and on February 16, 1956, The Daily American (Somerset, PA) ran an article titled “Ghosts of Laurel Hill Creek Covered Bridges.” Within the article the story of Doctor Harmar D. “Doc” Moore’s experience with the haunted bridge and his encounter with the supernatural is recorded.
Note: Although the article mentions the haunted covered bridge, who or what haunted the bridge was never revealed in the article, nor is the reason why it was haunted told. I’ve searched through the archives of The Daily American, but could not find any other mention of the haunted bridge.
Late one evening, Doc Moore, whose home and office was located in New Lexington, was summoned to a patient living in the Laurel Hill region. By the time he gathered his supplies and saddled his horse, it was nearing midnight.
It was after midnight when he arrived at the bridge. The night had been cloudy, with the light of the moon peeking through from time to time. When he arrived at the bridge, the moonlight broke through the clouds, giving the bridge a creepy appearance before vanishing behind the dark clouds.
His horse stopped at the entrance to the bridge and refused to enter the dark interior. Despite urging his horse to move forward, the horse refused to move. As Doc Moore sat there, debating what to do, he heard the sounds of footsteps coming from within the darkened interior.
Once again, the clouds parted and moonlight covered the land. In the interior of the bridge, Doc Moore could make out a large, human-like form. Unsure what the figure was, Doc Moore sat there and stared in awe and disbelief. Finally, the thing turned and ran from the other end of the bridge. In the fading moonlight, Doc Moore could make out a white figure moving quickly up the road, away from the covered bridge.
Once the figure was gone, the horse moved cautiously through the bridge as Doc Moore continued his journey to visit his patient. He had gone just a short distance when the figure appeared again, crossed over a fence and disappeared behind a large tree. As he rode through the night, he was wary of the figure that would appear and disappear behind trees, but manage to stay within sight.
Doc Moore finally decided to stop at the next farmhouse. He managed to wake its occupants and with some help, set out to solve the mystery. The figure again appeared and the farmer and Doc Moore gave chase across the fields until it was cornered.
They carefully approached the ghost afraid of what it would do if it was cornered. Shining the lantern upon it, they quickly discovered it was the farmer’s wife. On sleepless nights she would walk the fields or the road to the covered bridge, dressed in her night clothes, but had never been discovered before. Her disappearing behind trees was her attempt to hide from Doc Moore as he rode along.
Doc Moore would often tell this story as being his encounter with a “real live ghost.”
I finished photographing the covered bridge as another vehicle pulled into the lot. The family got out and lingered a short distance away while I took the final photographs of the bridge. I finished and walked back through the bridge to where I had parked as they began to explore the covered bridge.