Over 50 covered bridges were once scattered throughout Washington County. Today only nine remain as reminders of the ingenuity of the past. Although the fate of many covered bridges lies in bypass or removal, Washington County’s structures illustrate the resourcefulness of previous engineers.
Covering a bridge kept animals from shying from the water, protected the timber used in construction, and kept water out of its joints, giving the structure solidity. The floor level of a bridge was usually the bridge, protecting the wooden floor. It was built at a slightly higher elevation so water would drain off the bridge, protecting the wooden floor. Our bridges—each with its own charm—are reminiscent of a peaceful, unhurried era. Take some time and enjoy the bridges and scenery.
The first six covered bridges are routed through western Washington County. To begin your tour into this scenic area, take Washington Street in Marietta, cross the Washington Street Bridge, and follow signs to State Route 676.
Passing St. John’s Catholic Church (Built in 1866) and the German Lutheran Church, you will drive through Watertown. About one mile from Watertown, turn right at junction 339 to Beverly. Travel 2.2 more miles, turn left onto Township Road 108 (Camp Hervida Road) and within a half mile is the HARRA COVERED BRIDGE (c.1871).
Return to 339, turn right and follow it about 5 miles to TWP RD 39 (Bell Road). The road forks around an old tree. Bear right staying on TWP RD 39. Just under 1.5 miles you will cross the BELLBRIDGE (c.1888). Continue on TWP 39 passing the Murdoch Cemetery. Turn left onto ST RT 676. Proceed 1.2 miles and turn left onto CO RD 6 (Burnett Road). Take the first road to the right CO RD 18 (Oak Hill Road) and travel 2.3 miles to TWP RD 570 (Shinn Road). The SHINN COVERED BRIDGE (c.1886) is about 1.2 miles.
Return to CO RD 18 and turn right. Turn right at the intersection with ST RT 550. Go approximately 2 miles to TWP RD 61 (Clark Road) and turn left. The HENRY COVERED BRIDGE is located on this road about 1 mile north of ST RT 555.
Continue on TWP RD 61 to ST RT 555, turn left passing through Cutler. About 4.4 miles from Cutler, turn left on CO RD 6 (Burnett RD) and you will find the ROOT COVERED BRIDGE (c.1888). Return to 555, take a left, and then turn left on CO RD 3 (Veto Road). Travel CO RD 3 to Veto, taking a left onto 339 at Barlow. At the Barlow crossroads is the fairgrounds where the MILL BRANCH COVERED BRIDGE (c.1832) now makes its home. Return to Marietta via ST RT 550.
Three remaining bridges are scattered along ST RT 26 and the Wayne National Forest Scenic By-Way. Leaving Marietta from the intersection of Greene and Seventh Streets, follow Greene Street into ST RT 26, passing Broughton Foods Co. At 4.2 miles, turn right on CO RD 333 (Hills Bridge Road) at the Hills United Methodist Church. Immediately you will see the HILLS COVERED BRIDGE (also known as the Hildreth Covered Bridgec.1881). Return to ST RT 26 and turn right. Drive 12 miles through Moss Run and Dart to Lawrence Baptist Church and Cemetery. At 2.1 miles from this point, turn onto TWP RD 921 (Duff Road) where the HUNE COVERED BRIDGE (c.1877) stands over the Wayne National Forest canoe access.
The RINARD COVERED BRIDGE is located another 1.5 miles north just off of ST RT 26 on CO RD 406 (Tice Run Road). This bridge was destroyed in the flood on September 19, 2004, and was rebuilt and re-dedicated on October 21, 2006.
Covered Bridge Trusses:
A bridge truss is an arrangement of triangles joined together to carry a bridge and its load over a stream. Due to its structural strength, the triangle is a natural choice upon which to base truss design. The main difference among truss types is the variation in arrangement of the triangle’s compression members (diagonal timbers) and tension members (upright members).
The nine covered bridges in Washington County illustrate six truss designs. The most common truss type, the Multiple Kingpost truss, is seen in the Belland Mill Branch covered bridges. A Kingpost truss consists of two panels with a compression member in each panel mortised into a tension member. A Multiple Kingpost truss is a Kingpost truss with four or more panels.
The Shinn Bridgeis a Kingpost with Burr Arch truss, a combination of a wooden arch with a Multiple Kingpost. It was patented in 1804 and was designed to strengthen the basic truss.
A lengthened version of the Kingpost truss, the Queenpost, is illustrated by the Henry Bridge. The Root, Harra, and Hune bridges are Long truss designs. This truss, first used around 1830, consists of a series of boxed X’s with three or more panels making up the entire truss.
In 1869, Ohioan Robert W. Smith patented the truss design bearing his name, and the Smith truss can be seen today in the Rinard Bridge. The Hills (Hildreth) Bridge stands out as an example of the Howe truss, which implements the iron rod into wooden truss design.