Note: Although this is a part of a series, each article can be read individually and in any order. Stops on this journey across Ashtabula County, Ohio includes: Mechanicsville, Doyle Road, Giddings Road, Netcher Road, and South Denmark Road Covered Bridges.
Leaving the Mechanicsville Covered Bridge, I returned to Route 307 and began my journey eastward. I passed through Austinburg and headed toward the community of Jefferson. Roughly four miles east of Austinburg, or roughly a mile west of Jefferson, I turned onto Doyle Road. Following it northward for a mile, I passed through the Doyle Road Covered Bridge – which crosses Mill Creek at an “S” turn – and parked at a pull-off on the western side of the bridge.
As I started to explore and take pictures of the bridge, I immediately noted I was not going to walk through the bridge while visiting. Unlike my previous stop at Mechanicsville, there was a lot of traffic on Doyle Road this morning. Although the bridge was wide enough for two vehicles to pass inside, watching some of them navigating the turns at high-rates of speed was enough to keep me out of the bridge.
I was taking pictures when one of the vehicles slowed and once through the bridge, parked behind my vehicle. An elderly couple got out and I greeted them. They introduced themselves, saying they were touring the covered bridges of Ashtabula County. Little did I know at the moment, we would be encountering each other a number of times as we toured the covered bridges around Jefferson that morning.
Unlike many of the covered bridges I have visited, the Doyle Road Covered Bridge is not painted red and white, but retains its natural color. Above both approaches, a small wagon-wheel hangs as decoration. Also known as the Mullen Covered Bridge – the Mullen family once owned a nearby farm – it features a Town Lattice truss and has a total length of ninety-four feet. Both sides feature long, narrow windows to allow light to filter inside.
The bridge’s builder is not known, but according to local legend, it was erected by a carpenter named Potter in 1868. According to the legend, Potter was a Vermont carpenter who erected the Doyle Road Covered Bridge to resemble the one in his hometown. Potter is also credited with erecting two other covered bridges within the borders of Ashtabula County: Root and Olin.
Note: Carl Feather in The Covered Bridges of Ashtabula County, Ohio, reports that Potter was not one person, but a number of skilled bridge builders of the same family name. These bridge builders had descended from Lemuel Potter who had arrived in the county from Vermont. It is believed that it was one of his children who erected the Doyle Road Covered Bridge.
In 1987 the bridge underwent renovations to add a ninety-foot arch to the bridge’s support and was widened to allow cars to pass inside the bridge.
“You know they almost lost this bridge back in the forties?” the man spoke as he walked over to where I stood.
“I didn’t,” I replied. “Did they want to replace it with a modern bridge?”
“It caught fire. Spread from a nearby house.” In the August of 1941 the former E. L. Mullen farmhouse caught fire. Wind spread the fire to the bridge, but the fire company quickly put the flames out, saving the historic bridge.
After filing this bit of information in my travel journal, I finished my pictures and wished the couple a safe journey. I found a place to turn around and returned through the bridge and continued my journey eastward.