by Nancy Bishop
If you love covered bridges – or haven’t seen the ones in Columbia & Montour counties – you need to sign up now for the upcoming Covered Bridge Tour on Saturday, May 18. But hurry and sign up – there are only a few seats left on the bus. To reserve seats for the bus tour, call the Columbia-Montour Welcome Center at 570-784-8279 or 800-847-4810 during business hours (Monday – Friday; 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM).
And be sure to bring along your camera! You have until June 1 to submit a photo to the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau’s annual Covered Bridge Photo Contest. The contest gives you the chance to have your photo the subject of the 2019 covered bridge puzzle, a collectible 500-piece puzzle featuring one of the area’s covered bridges. The 2018 edition of the puzzle featured the Rupert Bridge.
Pennsylvania is the state with the most covered bridges remaining in the country, with approximately 200 bridges, and 25 of them are in Columbia and Montour Counties. Until I moved to Pennsylvania when I was in my late 20s, I had only seen the covered bridge in Forest Park in Springfield, MA – a state that only has seven covered bridges. I remember visiting that park as a child with my family. A sudden thunderstorm sent us running to the covered bridge for shelter along with a few dozen other people.
The bridges here are truly a not-to-be-missed historical treasure. Most were built in the 1800s.
Why cover a bridge? Most historians seem to agree that the primary reason was to protect the wood decking of the bridges from the weather, since wood exposed to the elements tends to rot. But some other reasons might be:
- Covered bridges resembled barns so animals would be calm when passing through them.
- Having covers kept snow off the bridges and made for less maintenance in the winter months after the invention of automobiles.
- The bridge trusses were unsightly to many travelers, so adding sides and roofs created a much more aesthetically pleasing structure.
- To provide a place of shelter for travelers during storms.
On the May 18 guided tour, you’ll get to see 13 of the area’s bridges. Get on the bus at the Visitors Bureau office at 121 Papermill Road in Bloomsburg and sit back as you travel through the picturesque Central Pennsylvania countryside. At each stop, there will be opportunities to explore the bridges and take photos.
At the stop at the East and West Paden Bridges – the “Twin Bridges” as they’re known – a picnic lunch will be provided by the Visitors Bureau. The tour will begin at 9 a.m. and end around 3:30 p.m. back at the Visitors Bureau. Cost of the tour, including lunch, is just $25 per person.
Enter Your Photo in 2019 Covered Bridge Photo Contest
If your photo wins, it will be featured as the Visitors Bureau limited-edition puzzle. The puzzles have been produced the past eight years and have featured the East & West Paden bridges (2 times), the Knoebels Bridge, Keefer Mills Bridge, Esther Furnace Bridge, Stillwater Bridge, the Josiah Hess Bridge, and most recently, the Rupert Bridge. All photos must be of bridges located within Columbia or Montour County. To learn which bridges qualify and where each is located, you can download a driving tour map and brochure with information about the bridges.
The Covered Bridge Puzzle is released in September and sold at the Bloomsburg Fair, the Covered Bridge & Arts Festival and at the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau Welcome Center while supplies last. The winning photographer’s name and a short bio will be printed on the puzzle box. The winner will receive a free puzzle. $2 from each puzzle sold is donated to the Columbia County Covered Bridge Association. For more information about the bus tour, photo contest, and the covered bridges in Columbia & Montour Counties, you can click here.
How to enter:
Email your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2019. Or, you can post your photo on Instagram using #CMVBPuzzle2019. Either way, you must include the photographer’s name and the name of the covered bridge. If you are selected as a finalist and you submitted on Instagram, you will be contacted for a high quality version of your submission.
- All photos must be of bridges located within Columbia or Montour County.
- All photos must be owned by the person submitting them. By submitting, you are giving the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau permission to use your photo as their 2019 puzzle and in future marketing efforts.
- All photos must be high-resolution (at least 1000 pixels on either side).
- A max of five photos per person will be accepted.