When people think of covered bridges, they usually
envision a wooden bridge with picturesque, romantic
details spanning smooth, calm waters. True in most
parks and private estates, but the building of covered
bridges were originally done for practical reasons –
protection and development.

In the early days of young America, barges and ferries
were the only means of transportation in what was then
a land filled with creeks, streams, and rivers. As
villages and towns grew, there was an apparent need to
provide safer and more economical means to transport
huge numbers of people and merchandize across
waterways. This mandated the construction of bridges
for the growth and development of towns which grew on
both sides of a river.

Covered Bridges and the People Who Built Them

The early ones were crudely built and its span was
usually that of the timber used to build it


The early ones
were crudely built and its span was
usually that of the timber used to build it. As the
need grew, so did the bridges, and the more people
getting into the business of bridge-building, the more
innovative it became. People started using trusses and
arches to lengthen bridges and soon they started to
use connected stringers.

Since bridges were not cheap to build and the
materials and manpower used in the process started to
cost more as the years went by, there was a pressing
need to make sure the bridges last longer. Wood was
the main construction material used back then and it
easily rots if exposed to extreme weather conditions
during winters and summers. To protect the bridges�
trusses and joints, it was a good idea to put roofs
and walls – and little did the first innovators know
that it would soon become the trend all over the
country. The first covered bridge was just partially
covered.

It was in New York during the early part of the
century


It was in
New York during the early part of the
century. But after 1830, the construction of wooden
covered bridges spread quickly all over America and
there were probably thousands built throughout the
19th century. Now the industry has a very rich past
with people making their names in history because of
the bridges they built.

Benton Jones is the most famous builder of covered
bridges throughout the nineteenth century. His works
include the famous bridges in Madison County which
were featured in an academy award winning movie. Many
of his work survived the ravages of time and
commercialization and are now preserved as historic
bridges. His best work which still stands is the
Roseman Covered Bridge which has lots of romanticized
stories that has made it one of the most famous
bridges in American history.

Another amazing story about the people who built
covered bridges was that of Horace King, a slave who
grew up in South Carolina and was one of the most
respected names in bridge building


Another amazing story
about the people who built
covered bridges was that of Horace King, a slave who
grew up in South Carolina and was one of the most
respected names in bridge building. King learned the
art of building bridges from his master, John Godwin.
For sixteen years the two of them built bridges
together in states like Alabama, Georgia, and their
hometown South Carolina.

But during the difficult years of the 1940s, King was
granted his freedom by Godwin as a sign of friendship
and partnership. The two continued to build good
bridges all over the country until the year Godwin
died. After that, three of King�s sons joined him in
the bridge-building business. The Kings went on to
become one of the most respected families in the
business of bridge construction, building strong,
sturdy bridges that still stand today. In Georgia,
most of the remaining bridges were built by the Kings
and are considered historic pieces protected by the
National Registry of Historic Places.

Covered bridges have a rich history in America, and
fortunately these days, they are treated like national
treasures protected by law and are preserved to be
enjoyed by generations to come


Covered bridges have
a rich history in America, and
fortunately these days, they are treated like national
treasures protected by law and are preserved to be
enjoyed by generations to come.