History of Ohio’s covered bridges in postcards

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History was never one of my favorite subjects in school, but as a “more mature” adult that has changed tremendously. Working for the largest indoor antique market in the world has opened the door to new adventures and given me a whole new perspective on history as well as life. As with all antiques, there’s history and always an interesting story behind the item as explained by the many well-versed vendors. Working with antique vendors from all over the world is one of best experiences anyone could ever encounter. The wealth of knowledge these vendors have is somewhat overwhelming but is something everyone should perceive.

Walking through the antique market is like taking a stroll through one of the largest history books in the world. In every booth a buyer can find something from every era and every corner of the world. For example, during the Ohio Scott Antique Market I found a treasure-trove of postcards on covered bridges. Who would have thought there would be so much history in covered bridges?

Although the first covered bridge in the United States was built in 1804, covered bridges date back to 780 B.C. in ancient Babylon. According to records, there were at one time nearly 14,000 wooden covered bridges in the United States alone. Of course, today that number is greatly diminished. Pennsylvania leads all other states with approximately 220 covered bridges today, with Ohio running a close second in numbers. At one time there were approximately 3,500 covered bridges in Ohio; today that number is down to a little over 140 throughout its 88 counties.

Most covered bridges built in the U.S. were constructed between 1825 and 1875. The bridges were covered to preserve the wooden framing from the snow and ice of harsh winters and rainy seasons. Some believe these covered bridges made safe havens for weary travelers on stormy nights, while others say they were used for political rallies, religious meetings, town meetings, poker parties, dances, luncheons and an occasional place for loved ones to rendezvous. And others say it was to keep the horses from being spooked by rolling streams and rivers below. Whatever the reasons may have been, it was discovered that a covered bridge would last 100 years or longer versus the 20-year lifespan of an uncovered bridge.

The following information on Ohio’s covered bridges was obtained from the enormous stack of postcards purchased at the Ohio Scott Antique Market. These postcards not only give the history of the bridge, but also show the beauty of the state. This is one history lesson that is well worth reading.

The oldest known covered bridge in Ohio was built in 1829 in Preble County. The only double-barreled covered bridge in Ohio was built by Orlistus Roberts and spanned 90 feet across Seven Mile Creek. Unfortunately, the bridge was destroyed by fire in 1986. However, the bridge was renovated at the cost of over $150,000 and is now located in the city park of the town of Eaton.

The second oldest covered bridge in Ohio is located in Trumbull County in the town of Newton Falls. The bridge, constructed in 1831, is the only bridge with a covered sidewalk. The sidewalk was added in 1921 for the safety of students walking to and from school. The bridge that crosses the East Branch of the Mahoning River is the only covered bridge remaining in Trumbull County. The Newton Falls bridge spans 117 feet and is listed on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.

The shortest covered bridge in the U.S. (and possibly the world) is located in Columbiana County. The bridge, a mere 19 feet, 3 inches long, is known as the Churchill Road Bridge. According to the postcard this covered bridge is located in a small county park in Lisbon, Ohio, and was built in 1870. However, beginning early this year, this title will be taken away from Columbiana County. Ashtabula County will be home to the nation’s shortest bridge once construction has been completed on the 18-foot replacement of the West Liberty Street Bridge on Route 534.

At Scott Antique Markets in Ohio and Georgia, a host of vendors offer postcards. David McDaniel and his mother, Doris, have been Ohio exhibitors since 1989. With an inventory of more than 5,000 postcards, the family duo also offers vintage and Victorian jewelry, graniteware, primitives, pottery, China and dolls. Postcards are displayed in order by state and also by subject. Doris said most people are looking for postcards from small towns, Ohio cards, military or something from the late 1800s.

“It’s just so fascinating to see the history unfold from these postcards,” said Doris. 

The Ohio market is held November through March and located on the Ohio State Fairgrounds just minutes from downtown Columbus.

The Georgia market is held the second weekend of each month throughout the year and located just off I-285 on Jonesboro Road in Atlanta and is close to the Atlanta Airport.
For more information visit www.scottantiquemarket.com or call 740-569-4912. ?


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