Talk:Covered bridge

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?? History of Covered Bridges in the U.S. is incomplete and in many places inaccurate! I feel the explanation of the reason(s) for contructing covered bridges should be included in the main article. I was told (in 1980's in Central EU) they were meant as a refuge from elements during harvests, but found out recently (in Mass.) that the roof was for roadway protection. This PDF doc also supports that idea Oregon Covered Bridges Introduction (see Bookmarks) Wikiak 00:40, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

as a brit, I've only seen these in films. What are they for? why are they covered? what are the advantages? -- Tarquin

Added a bit. It's fairly obvious, if you put a roof and walls over a bridge, it will be better protected from the weather. Ortolan88
never underestimate culture shock. I'm used to bridges build of brick or stone that withstand the weather, so the idea that a bridge's structure might not doesn't immediately spring to mind. -- Tarquin

When crossing a covered bridge, soldiers must march out of step to avoid causing vibrational damage. This is true of any (badly-built) bridge, as the Millenium Bridge debacle in London proved. I don't think it's specific to covered bridges, which is why I moved it out of the main article. Feel free to disagree... :) charlieF 16:15 Mar 14, 2003 (UTC)

Some covered bridges (skyways) were ruined in the September 11th attacks, at the World Trade Center. There were a lot of windows broken in the Sept11 attack too but I don't see it mentioned in the Window article. If this piece of information is really worthwhile (for example if the destroyed skyways were historically or architecturally important) it should be mentioned. At the moment the paragraph does not make any sense (so I'm moving it out of the article).

I've recently uploaded an image of Potter's Bridge (covered bridge), in Noblesville, Indiana history section. I haven't added it to this article, as I wasn't sure if it make the article to cluttered with pictures, but it's there nonetheless if anyone feels the inclination to use it. --Randolph 03:22, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I understood the suggestion that livestock were startled was apocryphal - the only reason is to protect the structural timbers. (talk) 14:48, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Covered bridges in Europe[edit]

This section is very lean and needs expanding.

Though wooden covered bridges are unknown in the UK (where I come from), they are common in Switzerland and adjoining areas of Germany (where I now live), where there are probably hundreds of them. They are still building new ones, as footbridges and cycle-track bridges.

One of the oldest and longest is in Bad Säckingen. See or search in Google images for "Bad Säckingen holzbrücke". This spans the Rhine, one end is in Germany and the other in Switzerland.

P.S. The Kapellbrücke is in the centre of Luzern, not "near" as you say. Luzern is the correct spelling. Lucerne is the French spelling, but Luzern is in German-speaking Switzerland.

To Tarquin: The advantages of covered bridges are: - Strength - same principle as a box girder bridge - The roof keeps rain off the wood decking and stops it rotting, this bit is not necessary for a metal or concrete bridge.

TiffaF 12:37, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

World's longest covered bridge[edit]

I added a paragraph concerning one of the key events in the American Civil War's Gettysburg Campaign when a crucial covered bridge (the only one between the state capital of Harrisburg and the Maryland border) was burned to prevent passage over the rain-swollen Susquehanna River. This bridge has been an architectural marvel, spanning nearly a mile and a quarter. It was rebuilt after the war, but destroyed again by a windstorm and rebuilt again as an open iron truss bridge for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Scott Mingus 12:23, Jun 18, 2005 (UTC)

Image needs replacement[edit]

The image Covered bridge Franconia Notch SP New Hampshire.jpg has a strange license tag and needs to be replaced with a free alternative. Pagrashtak 23:05, 19 July 2006 (UTC)


Can I add another image to the gallery of covered bridges or are there already enough? Pendragon39 21:34, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

47 images in a gallery is an astonishingly large number for Wikipedia, especially since Commons was created for just this purpose. A Commons gallery page (for example, see commons:Xinjiang) needs to be created for this instead, and at that point, sure, the more images the merrier, especially if they can be organized a bit like Xinjiang is. --Interiot 03:01, 6 April 2007 (UTC)

New Construction Details Section[edit]

I added a new section to the article that gives details about construction techniques and rationale for covering. Thoughts? Ideas? Mmoyer 17:42, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

See alsos[edit]

I have removed the red linked see alsos. While it is great to add to the See also appendice, there should at least be something to see at the additions. Red links have nothing to see. IvoShandor 19:11, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

Image could be improved[edit]

The current image seems like the bridge is a bit small. There surely are better images. If I may be so bold, may I suggest one from this category? There are others out there to be sure. ++Lar: t/c 01:42, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

  • Yes please - while you are at it do you want to axe the gallery? ;-) Ruhrfisch ><>°° 03:11, 3 November 2007 (UTC)
EH? :) (I was gonna add some MI bridges, since it has none....) Kidding aside it could stand to be trimmed. It should have representative images of types and styles but 40+ is probably too many... ++Lar: t/c 03:30, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Longest single-span coverd bridge[edit]

The present article states,

The town of Blenheim, New York has the longest single-span covered bridge in the world (232 feet), built in 1855. The bridge crosses the Schoharie Creek in the northern Catskills.

This does not appear to be true. The Wikipedia page for the above mentioned bridge is here, Old Blenheim Bridge.

The covered bridge at Bridgeport, in Nevada County, CA, USA is known to be the longest single-span, wooden covered bridge. Built in 1863, its span is commonly stated as 251 feet. The Wikipedia page for the Bridgeport bridge is here, Bridgeport Covered Bridge.

While I am by no means an expert, I'll be making the change to the article, as the present article appears incorrect. Any objections? Djd sd (talk) 07:02, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

Does the Britannia Bridge (460 ft per span) count? It is no longer standing in its original form, after a fire in its wood and iron "tunnels". --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:35, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
I would suggest that Britannia would no longer be considered a covered bridge, but rather a dual-level bridge, since it supports vehicles on the new upper deck. Huntster (talkemailcontribs) 17:31, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, the plot thickens... There is a Historical American Engineering Record (HAER No. NY-311) for the Blenheim Bridge, and one on the Bridgeport bridge as well (HAER No. CA-41). I'm going to do some more research and editing on the respective articles before changing anything here. The original spans are nearly equal in length, around 210 feet. Djd sd (talk) 07:46, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

It should also be noted that a bride can have more than one length. For covered bridges, there is the length of the 1) deck, 2) roof, and 3) span. From what information I have come across, the Calofornia bridge had a longer structure (deck & roof), but the New York brige had the longer span. —MJBurrage(TC) 20:26, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Why were they built..?[edit]

As a subject in an encyclopedia, I just think the reason why they were built should be explored more.

Currently in the section marked 'Construction details'. It suggests that the major historic likelihood was to protect the bridge superstructure from the elements. But there are many countries in the world where bridges are made from similar materials (such as wood) which are not covered.

There has to be a better description of purpose? The article is, otherwise, just a list of examples from around the world of 'covered bridges'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:20, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

  • I remember hearing one reason for the covered bridge was because of horses. A horse might become spooked or reluctant to cross an open bridge over water. The sight and sound of the water was the reason the horses might not cross. A covered bridge fooled the horses into thinking it was just walking over solid ground. I have no sources other than what was told to me by an old Vermonter. (talk) 15:36, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Is it reasonable?[edit]

{{helpme}} Of me to edit out some mis-statements and even misinformation, made on this page? As example under Standard Truss Types - the description fails to delineate between King Post and Multiple King Post, then goes on to misname a rare variant, (nowhere else that I am aware of, is a Trussed Arch called a Curved Multiple King Post though they are a variant of MK's) when discussion of rare truss typologies should perhaps only be discussed under a second category, something other than standard types. When does something rise to the level of requiring a citation? It does not seem feasible nor necessary to do so for every minor edit, especially when minor edits are simply the removal or correction of erroneous information. (how do you cite something that refutes bad or made up information?) Providing citations is for me made somewhat complicated at the moment, with business travel putting me hundreds of miles from my library. Such travel is common for me and likely when I would engage in bursts of editing, though I would likely have some sense of what I might wish to bring next time. JosephGJohnson (talk) 18:42, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

Yes - absolutely. Be bold! Similar to the comments already on your talk page, please just make sure that the edits use reliable sources per the verifiability policy. Regards.  7  01:56, 8 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree - here is an online source that may be useful while you travel. Ruhrfisch ><>°° 02:03, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Vandal protection[edit]

Since vandals throwing stones onto roads and railways are more common than before, bridges over same are increasingly being fitted with wire-mesh sides, and sometimes overall mesh from side to side. Tabletop (talk) 10:07, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. Since all of the covered bridges I know of cross streams, I suspect adding such mesh to covered bridges is rare. Do you know of example(s) of mesh being installed on covered bridges and WP:RS to cite these examples to? Ruhrfisch ><>°° 12:12, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Definition of a covered bridge[edit]

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica a covered bridge is a "timber-truss structure carrying a roadway .... The function of the roof and siding ... is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather." So I think that this is what the scope of the article should be. A covered bridge is not any bridge that happens to have a covering on it, but rather a wooden truss bridge which includes a weather covering from the structural truss. Typically built in the 1800s in areas of wet and cold weather where wood was a cheap resource. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cornellier (talkcontribs) 21:31, 30 September 2012 (UTC)

@Cornellier. I undid the modifications you made to make the article conform to the definition read in Encyclopedia Britanica. I did this because I wish for more time to be allowed for discussion before this change be made. I have a suspicion that this may not represent a global view. My research into covered bridges verifies that covered bridges in the USA tend to be wooden truss type, but I see that two pictures in the gallery on this page are not truss types. They both appear to be from an Asian culture; one is a covered arch bridge and the other is either a covered cantilever or covered beam bridge. It is possible that my suspicions are incorrect, but I would like for time to be allowed for research to be done into be sure of a global and historical view of the subject. Lexandalf (talk) 05:40, 1 October 2012 (UTC)
Hello Lexandalf. Thanks for your feedback. I think there are two issues here:
  • Is the article about "any bridge that happens to be covered", or the more narrow cited definition a "timber-truss structure carrying a roadway .... The function of the roof and siding ... is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather." If someone looks on wikipedia for "heart attack" the expected definition is "myocardial infarction" and not the literal or some other sense of this compound noun which is listed in the disambiguation. A useful definition of a thing refers not just to its description i.e. "covered" but also to why and how it is made. For example, although identical in appearance to legal currency, a counterfeit coin is not at all the same thing as a coin, the definition of which is an object "produced in large quantities ... to facilitate trade ... used as a legal tender". I propose that the article be about the cited definition because the general sense would be too general and would create redundancies for example with Skyway.
  • So I think from the above we need a narrower definition but then the point you raise about systemic bias calls into question whether the cited encyclopedia definition is too narrow. Searching google (even Australian or South African google) for "covered bridge" overwhelmingly returns links to "timber-truss structure carrying a roadway". A search for "covered bridges of china" returns 7 results. Yes Google may be subject to the same systemic bias as Wikipedia. I did a bit of research and definitely there are covered bridges in China that fit the definition (I think, don't know if they use timber truss), e.g. this bridge — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cornellier (talkcontribs) 16:37, 2 October 2012 (UTC)
@Cornellier. I see the point about there being some sort of consensus about "Covered Bridge" meaning the timber truss. My research tends to have the same results as yours with most people using the term much like Britannica. I still see an occasional use of the term "covered bridge" to refer to non-truss bridges with a roof. An example is this Japanese Covered Bridge in Vietnam (it appears to be a stone beam bridge). I also noticed that the article about skyways refers to them as a type of covered bridge. I think that a compromise of all of this might be the best solution. I suggest that we change the article to read something like "The term Covered bridge primarily refers to [ Insert Britanica definition here ] but may sometimes refer to other bridge types with roofs." (We need to make it sound more formal than that :-D ). We then go on to make the article mostly about the wooden truss type and throw a section in describing how "covered bridge" is occasionally used to talk about other things. What do you think? Will that be enough to try to counter the systemic bias? If that sounds good I suggest that we reinstate your previous edits with a modified first sentence and start working on this extra section that I am proposing. I encourage discussion on this. Lexandalf (talk) 03:53, 3 October 2012 (UTC)
OK, check it out! Probably still needs some work, but enough for one edit .... --Cornellier (talk) 01:32, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
Looks great! That is just what I had in mind. I especially like the addition of the "History and Development" section. I think the long term goal for this article should be to add to that section. It seems like a rich dimension to the topic that there must be a lot of material out there... Thanks for your hard work on this significant rewrite. Lexandalf (talk) 01:27, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't agree less. A "covered bridge" is most certainly any bridge that is covered. If your sources prove else, than I'm afraid you should check your sources again since we're talking about a very clear English phrase) Accordingly, this article needs to be renamed, rewritten or duplicated with necessary DAB pages. Regarding practice, here is an example of a concrete covered bridge which is much more important than all of the bridges covered in this article so far. Oh, and there is a brick-and-mortar which is listed in this very article about "wooden truss"))) I'm going to be bold about this issue unless a compromise is reached soon. Wishes, 04:22, 2 April 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ukrained2012 (talkcontribs)

While the article probably shouldn't constrain itself to just wooden structures (there are unquestionably a number of covered bridges using a variety of materials), the topic should not be cut into several little pages. Also, your assertion that the Kharkiv bridge is more important than all the bridges listed is extremely conceited. While it may be important locally, even from just a historical perspective, that argument holds no water. You can be bold if you like, but don't be surprised if your edit is reverted. I suggest discussing the issue with others here, to determine consensus. Huntster (t @ c) 04:57, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Hunster that further discussion is necessary. The last major edit of this page was made by Cornellier and only (s)he and I were engaged in discussion as to what change should be made. I welcome a wider discussion and I am sure that we will improve this article with input from more diverse perspectives. If you look at the edit history and the previous discussion in this thread you can see that this article used to make it sound like there was no possibility for a bridge to be covered unless it was a wood truss bridge. Cornellier made the change to the article (particularly in the opening section) that some other types of covered bridges do exist and are referred to with the same name. So to Ukrained2012's concerns, we have actually changed the article about six months ago to be more like what you are calling for. I propose that the discussion be about how and if we need to go even further down that road.
That said, I request that anyone who wishes to engaged in further discussion to consider this Encyclopedia Britannica article. I have previously taken it as self-evident that Encyclopedia Britannica is a reputable source worthy of reference and consideration. If you think this is not true, please explain you thinking. If we are to take this article as a source then it is a very interesting thing that it deals only with covered bridges as wooden truss bridges. I don't have time today to search for anymore sources like it, but I have seen others. I would like to suggest that it is a significant and common thing to think of covered bridges as wooden truss bridges. I definitely agree that we need to have the article deal with other types of covered bridges as well, but I do not think that we can brush aside this (more narrow) notion of a covered bridge as a wooden truss. I think that we have to deal with it somehow. I welcome suggestions and discussion on how it is best to mix these varied definitions of "covered bridge" to have a more accurate article that represents a global view. (Lexandalf (talk) 15:11, 2 April 2013 (UTC))

In APRIL 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation's The Federal Highway Administration researched and published a Covered Bridge Manual "for engineers and historic bridge preservationists to provide technical and historical information on preservation of covered bridges." Here's how the FHWA defined a("legitimate" -their word) covered bridge: A structure (roof, walls & floor") "supported (or at least supported at one time) by longitudinal trusses built of relatively large (heavy) timber components. The authors of the report made a distinction between covered bridges and bridges that are covered, stating that "the former describes a structure that earns its keep, one that is as it appears to be, an authentic covered bridge. The other, so-called covered bridges (usually girder-supported bridges with some sort of shed on top) just happen to support a roof and walls, and are not generally considered legitimate covered bridge structures."1Drdpw (talk) 22:19, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

I must say, that's some of the most bizarre and upside down language I've seen. I won't even pretend to understand what kind of distinction between "covered bridge" and "merely covered" they are trying to draw with that. Huntster (t @ c) 23:06, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
That particular quotation is pretty convoluted (it's a govt. publication after-all). I believe it's saying that a bridge whose deck surface is not (or was not at one time) supported (held up) by its timber superstructure (walls & roofing) is not a genuine covered bridge. A clearer definition of a covered bridge is given a couple pages later. A covered bridge is a timber structure supporting a deck surface that carries loads over an obstruction (e.g., a river). A covered bridge's structural components are protected from the elements by various coverings: walls, roofs, and decks.2Drdpw (talk) 23:44, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
The language in the prior quote isn't exactly superb, but I think the important point made is that faux covered bridges are "usually girder-supported bridges with some sort of shed on top". That is the important distinction. To put it another way: if the "walls" of the bridge could just as easily be entirely omitted from the structure without affecting its functionality, then the bridge load isn't being supported by longitudinal trusses and the bridge would therefore not qualify as a proper covered bridge. Generally, the presence of load-bearing trusses is the qualifying factor. —Jgcoleman (talk) 20:21, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

New bridges[edit]

I think it would be interesting to have a section on new bridges which have been built such as in the 20th century or the "last 50 years". Two I know of are the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge which is mentioned in Kicking Horse River and the bridge at Guelph, Ontario mentioned in Eramosa River Trail. Major restoration or reconstruction projects are interesting too such as when the Cornish–Windsor Covered Bridge was redone. The skills and knowledge to build these bridges is not lost! Jim Derby (talk) 13:41, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

That seems like a reasonable suggestion. As usual, my concern would be to try to increase the global treatment of this article. If possible we should include new covered bridges outside of North America. If that is not possible, then that is fine. How would this new section be integrated into the current organization or how would the organization be changed to fit it in? Lexandalf (talk) 20:11, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I'd suggest initially talking about "covered bridges today", in the historical context. E.g. append to the "History and development" section something like: "although modern materials have rendered the covered bridge design obsolete, some are still built for aesthetic (Kicking Horse Pedestrian) or historical (Cornish–Windsor) (which was rebuilt?) reasons. That might be a starting point. If there are enough examples then it might merit its own section. --Cornellier (talk) 04:06, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Oldest remaining covered bridge[edit]

An e-mail to OTRS has pointed out that a bridge in New Hampshire may in fact be the oldest, please see - --ukexpat (talk) 20:29, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the lead. It might be wise to wait until we have additional verification for this information before we include it. Any thoughts? (Lexandalf (talk) 02:23, 11 April 2013 (UTC))
Ah, I've already included it alongside the previous example (got busy at work and didn't reply here), since the NH bridge is not totally verified and because both citations claim "first". Make any adjustments you feel are necessary. Huntster (t @ c) 02:58, 11 April 2013 (UTC)
The bridge you quote may be the oldest in the USA (1789), but is is no way the oldest in the world, not when the Luzern Kapellbrücke claims 1333 and the Holzbrücke Bad Säckingen claims 1272. TiffaF (talk) 18:50, 16 March 2016 (UTC)
I took a look at Luzern Kapellbrücke, both to investigate your claim and because it just sounds like an interesting structure. It is, undoubtedly, a very interesting bridge. However, claiming Kapellbrücke as the oldest "covered bridge" stirs up a debate that has smoldered here for quite a while: what constitutes a proper covered bridge in contrast to a bridge which just happens to have a cover? Kapellbrücke is definitely a bridge, and it definitely has a cover... it even has trusses. However, it seems that the trusses support only the roof structure. There don't appear to be any trusses used to bear the weight of foot traffic. From what I can tell, this is basically a timber-framed stringer bridge with a roof and therefore, strictly speaking, isn't a "covered bridge". Again, though, I'm basing this analysis on a few photos, so I suppose there may be structural elements to the bridge which aren't shown. —Jgcoleman (talk) 00:58, 17 March 2016 (UTC)
Holzbrücke Bad Säckingen is a different story, but let's start by dialing back the claim that it was built in 1272. The Wikipedia article itself states that the bridge was destroyed several times and that the current bridge was built in 1700. Still very early –earlier than any US covered bridge– but far from 1272. Now Holzbrücke Bad Säckingen does seem to be be an authentic, wooden, through-truss bridge which would certainly qualify as possibly the oldest covered bridge in the world. It is unfortunate that the Wikipedia article for Holzbrücke Bad Säckingen does not cite a single resource, making it difficult to confirm the construction date. You may very well be on to something with Holzbrücke Bad Säckingen, but we need some authoritative data to confirm that the current bridge really was built in 1700 as has been suggested. —Jgcoleman (talk) 01:40, 17 March 2016 (UTC)

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