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12.27.2015

PA Covered Bridge Journey: Somerset County

All covered bridges have character and are picturesque. The way in which these bridges were built, in large part by local carpenters with custom designs, there is a wide variation on the ways in which these bridges were built. Even though many of these bridges are built under the building styles of the Town Truss, Kingpost Truss, and Howe Truss, there are subtle variations in the ways these bridges are built. The character is unmatched. On a recent venture from Pittsburgh to the Lehigh Valley, I took the long and scenic route, stopping by twenty different covered bridges across the state, in addition to these bridges, I stopped at some other attractions as well. The journey was over 300 miles and took about 12 hours. To say that I am pretty hardcore with my road trips is an understatement. The day was cloudy, misty, and rainy, perfect for visiting covered bridges.
Coordinates: 39.8675° N, 78.8171° W
Packsaddle Covered Bridge - Built in 1877,  Located in Fairhope, PA, Somerset County
These bridges have so much character, from the sounds they make as you walk across them, to the creaking sounds they make when a vehicle crosses over them, to the pitter patter of rain on the roof of the covered bridges in rainstorms, and the smells of the bridges, the essence of the covered bridge is just awesome. The first bridge we are going to check out is in Somerset County. Packsaddle Bridge is one of the most picturesque in the state, and the only covered bridge that I am aware of that crosses over a waterfall. It is built with the Kingpost Truss. While not a particularly unique structure, this covered bridge is simply a spectacular sight when mixed with the spectacular surroundings.

The first stop of the trip was at the Somerset Historical Center. It is home to an entire village that preserves artifacts of country life over the last two centuries.
 One of these remnants is the Walter's Mill Covered Bridge. It was saved from a location four miles south of the historical center and it dates back to 1859. It was originally built with the Kingpost method, but it was strengthened with the addition of Burr Arches.
Coordinates: 40.0655° N, 79.0773° W
Walter's Mill Covered Bridge at the Somerset Historical Center

Next door to the Somerset Historical Center is the monument for the Quecreek Mine Rescue. This monument commemorates the heroic efforts to save nine miners that were trapped while coal mining from accidentally mining into an old mine that was not documented properly. The end result was flooding and collapse, trapping nine men in the mine for 77 hours, from July 24th-July 28th, 2002. This was a success story in the face of the thousands of Pennsylvania lives lost in the dangerous occupation of coal mining. This story had a happy ending for a change in Pennsylvania mine accidents, and the efforts undertaken to rescue these miners have been used to successfully rescue other trapped miners.
Coordinates: 40.07832, -79.08552
Quecreek Mine Disaster Monument
 The Glessner Bridge was the second stop that we made before stopping at Packsaddle, and this is a pretty stunning bridge as well. It crosses the Stonycreek River and dates back to 1881. It is 90 feet long and utilizes the Burr Truss system.
Glessner Covered Bridge Coordinates: 40.0258° N, 78.9207° W
Glessner Covered Bridge - Built in 1881, located north of Shanksville, PA Somerset County
The New Baltimore Covered Bridge dates back to 1879 and crosses the beautiful blue Raystown Branch of the Juniata River. It was built in the Kingpost Style.
New Baltimore Covered Bridge Coordinates: 39.9868° N, 78.7720° W
New Baltimore Covered Bridge - Built in 1879 and located in New Baltimore, PA Somerset County
I stopped at five of the ten covered bridges in Somerset County: Walter's Mill, Glessner, Packsaddle, Stoystown, and New Baltimore. They are all very beautiful. If you are a fan of covered bridges, Somerset County should definitely be a destination for you. Additionally, the Somerset Historical Center, the Quecreek Mine Rescue Memorial, the Flight 93 MemorialMt. Davis, and other destinations make this an area that you should definitely check out. Next we will continue on our cross-state journey into Bedford County.



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