Did you ever wonder why bridges constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s were roofed? For practical purposes, a roof over the bridge protected the wooden deck, increasing the life of the bridge. I found a more interesting purpose in an Indiana County tourism booklet called “Explore Our Hidden Treasures”. It says: “Legend has it that farmers even found it easier to herd cattle across a covered bridge because of their resemblance to barns.” I know my Grandfather never herded his cows across Thomas Bridge in Indiana County, but it is possible that farmers long before Howard Sanford, Sr. did. Thomas Bridge dates back to 1879. Reconstruction occurred in 1998.
As a kid, my cousins and I became easily bored during family gatherings at The Farm up the way from the bridge on Jamison Road. We’d beg for permission to walk to the creek and the covered bridge. In the 60s, grade school kids could walk the country dirt roads without a parent. We’d amuse ourselves throwing stones in the creek and making Indian woops loud enough to echo in the cavernous covered bridge. Then, we’d safely return to the farm to roast marshmallows and swig cherry pop.
Ed and I visited Thomas Bridge on our trip to Pennsylvania. We left the coach in Greensburg and came in our Toyota Corolla. Vehicles under 12-feet high can drive through the bridge to cross Crooked Creek. The Prevost would never have fit.
Thomas Bridge is the only covered bridge in Indiana County still in use today. Last summer, we had visited another of Indiana County’s bridges, the Kitersburg Bridge which dates back to 1877. It also crosses Crooked Creek but is closed to traffic. I never played on this bridge but I enjoy the nostalgia of this old, historic bridge too.
May 17, 2008