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 Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge, I returned to Route 772 and headed into Manheim. Passing through the center of town, I turned left onto North Laurel Street and then right onto East Adele Avenue. Upon making the turn, I could see my final stop ahead, Shearer’s Covered Bridge, which connects the Manheim Central High School and Manheim’s Veterans Memorial Park. The covered bridge crosses the stream I was becoming very familiar with – Chiques Creek. Unlike the other covered bridges on my journey, this one did not have a historical placard, but a simple sign attached to the approach which gave a very brief history of the covered bridge.
After reading the information printed on the sign, I stepped back to admire the bridge. While closed to vehicular traffic, the bridge remains open to visitors. Shearer’s Covered Bridge, also known as Shearer’s Mill Covered Bridge, was erected with the familiar double Burr arch truss design, a single span and a total length of eighty-six feet. However, the bridge is unique in three ways: 1) the entire bridge is painted red, including the approaches and interior; 2) instead of vertical boarding on the outside, it has horizontal boards attached to protect the truss; and 3) there are windows immediately inside the approaches.
After a short debate regarding where the best spot to photograph the bridge would be, I walked through the bridge and set up the camera on the southeastern edge of the bridge. I was not the only one enjoying the bridge that afternoon as walkers, joggers and bicyclists passed through the covered bridge.
Shearer’s Covered Bridge did not originally sit between the high school and the Memorial Park, but instead was located on Colebrook Road, roughly a mile south of Sporting Hill and four miles from where it currently stands. Erected along Colebrook Road in 1847, the bridge crossed Chiques Creek, connecting East Hempfield and Rapho Townships near the mill owned by Jacob Shearer. The original bridge stood until 1856 when it was destroyed by a flood.
While the original covered bridge is often credited to Jacob Claire, it is not clear if it had been erected by him or not. What is known is he did erect the second covered bridge to stand at this location. He built the bridge in 1856 at this location over Chiques Creek. In 1970 it was scheduled to be demolished and replaced with a concrete bridge. Due to local fundraising, the bridge was saved and in 1971, it was moved to its current location – again over Chiques Creek – four miles to the northeast in Manheim borough.
As more people were arriving to enjoy the park and bridge, I finished taking my pictures as another photographer set up his camera a short distance away. Once I had packed the camera away, I passed back through the bridge allowing the newest visitors the opportunity to enjoy the nice weather. With my tour of Lancaster’s covered bridges coming to an end, I turned the vehicle toward home, leaving the historic structures for others to explore.
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