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2.09.2016

PA Covered Bridge Journey: Lehigh County

Today we take a journey through northeast Lehigh County, up the Jordan Creek. These are some of the most beautiful examples of covered bridges within the state, along with the widest, with several of them hovering around 17 feet wide. The average width of a Pennsylvania covered bridge is about 10 feet wide. These are some seriously awesome structures. That are every bit as beautiful as the rest of the roughly 200 covered bridges throughout the state. I also feel like I am home when crossing through these bridges, for when I first went to college a long time ago, I graduated with an Associates Degree at Lehigh Carbon Community College. I eventually transferred to the University of Pittsburgh, and have since settled in Pittsburgh. On my way to LCCC each day, I would try to get as many of these covered bridges within my route as I could. Having all of these covered bridges within my route, it made detouring around the slow SR 309 all the more worthwhile.

Manasses Guth Bridge
Coordinates: 40.6283° N, 75.5536° W
Manasses Guth Bridge - Built in 1858 and located in South Whitehall Township, near Orefield, PA
This stunning covered bridge is in the midst of a restoration process. This, as with all of the Lehigh County bridges, is taken care of really well. As with all of the other covered bridges in the county, it is built with the Burr Arch-Truss.   
Nearby, just down the street on Iron Bridge Road, is this cool concrete arch bridge. It dates back more than a century to the old Catasaqua and Fogelsville Railroad. It carried lime, coke, and iron ore to a former major steel plant in Catasaqua. There are large deposits of lime in southern Lehigh County, and this was a major commodity for production and also a major reason why Bethlehem Steel and others popped up around the Lehigh Valley.
While there are many railroad concrete arch bridges, something about this one really catches my eye.
South Whitehall Township has joined the Manasses Guth Bridge and the next bridge we are checking out, Wehr Covered Bridge, into Covered Bridge Park, a nice community park that opens up access to the covered bridges, and a large swath of the Jordan Creek's banks, to public access. Considering the popularity of trout fishing in this waterway, this is an excellent thing for the community. Additionally, playgrounds, playing fields, and pavilions make awesome places for the community to gather and relax. This is one of the nicest community parks within the state.
Wehr Covered Bridge 
Coordinates: 40.5689° N, 75.5047° W

Wehr Covered Bridge - Built in 1841 and located in South Whitehall Township near Orefield
This is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, covered bridge within the state. It is absolutely stunning to me. There is something about the excellent and perfectly pointed stone work, and the care given to this bridge really shows. In July of 2014, a grossly overweight vehicle crossed the bridge and damaged the bridge. Thankfully they were able to make the necessary repairs.



The width of this Burr Arch-Truss bridge is 17 feet, tied with several of the other Lehigh County covered bridges for widest in the state.
While Wehr Mill is long gone, Wehr Dam remains. This remains as a popular fishing spot and it also serves as a flood control device.
The other thing that impresses me about this bridge is how many contributing structures remain. Old village structures still remain.
Including these lime kilns, that have probably stood idle for the better part of a century. It is incredible how intact they are.

Rex Covered Bridge
Coordinates: 40.6347° N, 75.6128° W

Rex Covered Bridge - Built in 1858 and located in North Whitehall Township, near Orefield, PA and south of Schnecksville, PA
Rex measures in at 116 feet and it was built using the Burr Arch-Truss method. It was named after the Rex family, which owned land in the area.
This bridge also measures in around 17 feet, almost unheard of with covered bridges anywhere else.

Geiger Covered Bridge
Coordinates: 40.6462° N, 75.6165° W


Geiger Covered Bridge - built in 1860 and located in North Whitehall Township, south of Schnecksville, PA
Measuring in at 110 feet, this beauty has a portal style with vertical and squared off planks that is very rare. It utilizes the Burr Arch-Truss building style and it is located within the Trexler Nature Preserve
Trexler Nature Preserve/Lehigh Valley Zoo
The Trexler Nature Preserve is an 1108 acre county park that plays host to a large nature area, some awesome views of the Lehigh Valley, a herd of buffalo and elk, and the Lehigh Valley Zoo. It was created as a vision of local gilded age tycoon Harry Trexler. His vision included preserving the buffalo species and possibly saving it from what looked like inevitable extinction. He left his estate into a trust to benefit the lives of Lehigh Valley residents. In addition to the Trexler Nature Preserve, he left other great places for recreation, including the Lil-Le-Hi Trout Hatchery, Lehigh Parkway Park, and more.
The Trexler Environmental Center is a LEED certified building that serves as an interpretive center for the nature preserve, as well as an observation deck of the beautiful rolling grasslands.
The building also has solar panels and sustainable rain water management devices on the roof, in addition to awesome accessibility for everyone.

The views are absolutely stunning
On a clearer day you can see further, but the views with the fog are absolutely stunning.
I was not using my fish eye, that is just how dramatic these rolling grasslands are. Simply stunning
Schlicher Covered Bridge
 Schlicher Covered Bridge - Built in 1882 and rebuilt in 2014, located in North Whitehall Township near Schnecksville, PA
PennDOT determined that the original bridge was damaged beyond repair and that it needed to be replaced. They did a nice job with it. They claim that roughly ten percent of the original materials were reused in this Burr Arch-Truss bridge.

Lehigh County has some of the most beautiful and well preserved covered bridges within the state. Be sure to visit the covered bridges, the Trexler Nature Preserve, the Lehigh Valley Zoo, America's second drive-in theater and the oldest remaining venue, Shankweiler's Drive-In, and more. 


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