Note: Although this is a part of a series, each article can be read individually and in any order. Stops on this journey include: Neff’s Mill Covered Bridge, Lime Valley Covered Bridge, Byerland Mennonite Meetinghouse, Baumgardner’s Mill Covered Bridge, Colemanville Covered Bridge, Forry’s Mill Covered Bridge, Siegrist’s Mill Covered Bridge, Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge, and Shearer’s Covered Bridge.
Leaving Siegrist’s Mill Covered Bridge, I passed through the bridge and following a maze of rural roads, finally encountered Route 772. Continuing eastward, I made my way through the community of Mount Joy and on toward Manheim. As I was going through the community of Sporting Hill – located just west of Manheim – the GPS informed me to take a right onto West Sun Hill Road.
Only a quarter of a mile after turning onto West Sun Hill Road, the covered bridge appeared before me. I slowed down and not seeing a place to pull off the road safely, passed through the bridge. There was no place to park on that side either, so I found a place to turn around and returned to the eastern side of the bridge where the historical placard stood.
I found a spot where I could pull most of the way off the road and after placing the hazard lights on, I made my way to the historical placard. Unlike any of the previous bridges, this one had a lot of traffic passing through it at a high rate of speed. I silently hoped I would not be the witness to an accident while I was here because neither side seemed to yield or even slow down as they drove across the bridge.
Studying the covered bridge from a safe location, I could see it had a double Burr arch truss and had a single span which crossed over Chiques Creek. Like the majority of Lancaster County’s covered bridges, it is painted the tradition red with the approaches painted white. Having a length of ninety-six feet, the bridge connects Rapho and Penn Townships and goes by a number of names, including: Big Chiques #1, Kauffman’s Covered Bridge, Whiskey Distillery Covered Bridge, and Sporting Hill Covered Bridge.
According to the historical placard, a group of local citizens were appointed in 1855 to determine if a bridge was needed at this location. The group determined the bridge over Chiques Creek was necessary, giving travelers a means of bypassing Manheim Borough.
Interestingly, both noted bridge builders, John Carpenter and Elias McMellen are connected to the history of Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge. The first covered bridge was erected by Carpenter in 1857, taking its name from the nearby distillery operated by Jacob Kauffman and later by his son, Henry. In 1874, McMellen erected a new bridge at the same location to replace the bridge lost earlier that year. Note: In a few places, I’ve read that it was erected in 1900 by James Carpenter, but I’m not sure where this date comes from. 1900 would have been four years after James Carpenter died.
I managed to take some pictures of the covered bridge, but due to the amount of traffic and having no place to safely park for an extended period of time, I did not stay to enjoy the location as I had at the other bridges of this journey. Leaving the bridge, I set my sights on my final stop on my tour of Lancaster County’s covered bridges.
Note: While not directly related to this covered bridge, I found an article in the February 16, 1881 edition of The Lancaster Examiner (Lancaster, Pa) regarding flooding that hit the county the previous week. The rising waters had caused an “invasion” of muskrats across the region and Kauffman’s Distillery was one of those places affected. The waters of Chiques Creek had flooded the distillery to a depth of four to five feet. More than sixty muskrats had been killed to protect the distillery’s grains from the rodents which had been forced out of the marshy lands along the stream.
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