History & Overview

Of the nearly 14,000 authentic wooden covered bridges that once existed in the United States, less than 900 remain. Over the years, many covered bridges have been destroyed by fire, flooding, or vandalism. The majority of the others simply collapsed due to age and disrepair, and some were torn down to make way for newer iron bridges.

Pennsylvania is the state with the most covered bridges remaining in the country, with approximately 200 bridges. Columbia and Montour counties are home to the towns of Benton, Berwick, Bloomsburg, and Danville – not to mention 25 of the state’s total covered bridges. This places the counties as having the third highest number of bridges in the entire United States, only behind Parke County, Indiana and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania!

No two covered bridges are alike and each one has its own history, personality, and story to tell. Columbia County alone has 19 bridges, Montour County has two covered bridges, and four additional bridges span the divide between Columbia & Northumberland counties.

Why Were Bridges Covered?

Many reasons are suggested for covering bridges. One generally accepted reason is protection from weather and wood rot in order to make sure the bridges lasted longer. Sides and roofs protected the beams and timbers that served as key bridge supports. Less exposure to adverse weather conditions meant the bridges would hold up much better year after year.

Other explanations include:

  • The 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.

From an engineer’s viewpoint, adding a roof to a bridge added stability and strengthened the entire structure. A more romantic utilization of covered bridges was as a location for courting couples to meet. Covered bridges are also known as “kissing bridges” for that very reason!

"The stories that this bridge could tell
Are numerous and happy and sad
Each could fill a book or two
With the experiences it has had"

- From “The Old Covered Bridge” by Doug Frederick

Winter Travel

Despite roofs and sides playing an important role in preserving key support beams, the earliest winters with covered bridges brought another challenge.  In the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, workers would be paid to shovel snow onto bridge floors to enable winter horse and sleigh traffic. If the rest of the roads in the area were snow-covered, travelers would have utilized a horse-drawn sleigh in lieu of the traditional carriage to get around. Without snow covering the floorboards of the bridges, crossing them in a sleigh would otherwise have been extremely difficult.

A past resident of the area, Donald L. Diseroad, recalled his father using a rented horse and sleigh in the early 1900's to complete his rural mail route when the roads were snow covered. He also noted that in the late 1800's, his grandfather John Diseroad worked odd jobs throughout the year. One of his odd jobs in the winter was shoveling snow down on the bridge floors.


Planning to Visit the Bridges?

If you are planning to visit our iconic covered bridges, your first step would be to obtain our free Covered Bridges of Columbia and Montour Counties brochure and driving map. This comprehensive publication includes all 25 area covered bridges, including a detailed driving map and turn-by- turn directions. The brochure will take you on a historical and educational journey along our scenic back roads to visit the beloved bridges. To get your free copy, visit our “Request a Brochure” page or by stopping in to the Visitors Bureau Welcome Center (121 Papermill Road, Bloomsburg). You can elect to complete the entire driving tour or just go out and visit a few of the bridges. Venture out at your own pace and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding landscape and covered bridges. You may also elect to sign up for our brand-new mobile Covered Bridge Passport (details below), and you'll be ready to hit the trail in no time!

At the same time, plan to make a weekend out of your visit.  There are plenty of wonderful things to see in do in the rest of the county, including stunning fall foliage, State Parks, hiking, biking, river and lake sports, historical walking tours of the area towns, and much more.  Often, there are also special events and festivals happening every weekend throughout the region. For more information, please contact the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau at 570-784-8279 or head over to our "Request a Brochure" page to get more information. We hope to see you soon!

Treasured Views


2024 Covered Bridge Passport - Sign Up Today!

Come explore the Covered Bridges of Columbia & Montour Counties! Picturesque and historic, they recall a time when life was simpler and closer to the land. On a yearly basis, visitors from all over the world come to admire the antique craftsmanship of the bridges and relax in the quiet countryside. Symbols of small-town America, these covered bridges coax travelers off the beaten path to explore little streams and forgotten dirt roads. Embark upon your own journey through the beautiful PA countryside with this FREE mobile passport and experience all 25 of the area’s iconic covered bridges in person.

As an added bonus, you’ll receive a special commemorative gift (mailed to you at no cost) once you’ve checked in at 13 of the bridges. This year, participants will receive a handmade wooden ornament designed as a model replica of the West Paden Covered Bridge. Participants will also receive a commemorative embroidered covered bridge patch, while supplies last.

And, for the true covered bridge enthusiasts out there who check in at all 25 bridges, we’ve got a grand prize package drawing waiting for one lucky recipient. The grand prize will feature an original covered bridge pastel painting from a local artist, Pam Thomas, and a two night stay in Benton, PA at the luxurious Wandell Inn. Please remember that all check-ins must be completed by December 31, 2024 to be counted toward your grand prize entry. The grand prize drawing will take place in January, 2025.

To get started, simply click the "Sign Up" button in the box below and discover these covered treasures for yourself!

------ Check Out The Prizes ------

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The 2024 Grand Prize includes this piece of original artwork by area artist Pam Thomas!

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Once you complete 13 check-ins, redeem your points to receive this free handmade wooden ornament in the mail.

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While supplies last, you will also receive a commemorative embroidered patch with your West Paden Bridge ornament.

2023 WINNER: Robert Dunphy from Eldersburg, MD
1,731 total passport visits to our bridges, with 47 enterprising individuals completing all 25 stops. Congratulations!


Can't Get Enough of Our Covered Bridges?

Covered Bridge Photo Contest & Puzzles

Each year, the Visitors Bureau holds a photo contest to produce a 550-piece puzzle featuring one of the area covered bridges. Limited-edition puzzles have been produced the past thirteen years and have featured the East & West Paden bridges (multiple times), the Knoebels Bridge, Keefer Mills Bridge, Esther Furnace Bridge, Stillwater Bridge, Josiah Hess Bridge, Rupert Bridge, Kramer Bridge, a special Twin Bridges 10th Anniversary Puzzle, the Wanich Bridge, the Parr's Mill Bridge, and most recently, the Jud Christian Bridge.  The 2024 edition of the puzzle will be released for sale to the public this fall, and will be based on the winner of this year's photo contest. Extremely limited quantities of past years' puzzles (2022 & 2023) are still available at our Welcome Center. If you are interested in purchasing a past edition, please visit the Welcome Center during normal business hours (M-F; 8:30am - 4:30pm).

- 2024 PHOTO CONTEST CLOSED - 

The 2024 Contest is now closed, and a winner will be announced in late June. Stay tuned for a 2025 contest next spring!

HOW TO ENTER

CONTEST CLOSED. CHECK BACK NEXT YEAR! This year, submit your photo directly into our online form. Note – there is a MAX file size of 20mb. If your image is selected as a finalist and a higher resolution photo is required, we will reach out via email.

RULES & REGULATIONS:

  1. Entry to the contest is FREE.
  2. 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 2024 puzzle and in future marketing efforts for the contest and for the counties.
  3. All photos should be high-resolution (at least 2000 pixels on shortest side).
  4. A max of FOUR photos per photographer will be accepted.
  5. All photos must be of bridges located within either Columbia County or Montour County. For a map/list of the bridges, please click here.
  6. NEW Guideline for 2024 – judging preference will be given to photos featuring one of the following twelve bridges:
    • Creasyville Bridge
    • Davis Bridge
    • Fowlersville Bridge
    • Hollingshead Bridge
    • Johnson Bridge
    • Krickbaum Bridge
    • Patterson Bridge
    • Richards Bridge
    • Sam Eckman Bridge
    • Sam Wagner Bridge
    • Shoemaker Bridge
    • Snyder Bridge

IMPORTANT NOTE: Photo submissions of ALL 25 of our bridges WILL still be considered, and an outstanding image of one of our bridges not listed above still has a chance to be selected as the winner.

The top overall photo will be selected by the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau to be featured as the 2024 Covered Bridge Puzzle. The winning photographer will have their name and a short bio published on the puzzle box. The winner will also receive a free puzzle and will be announced to local press outlets.

- 2023 Covered Bridge Contest Winner -

The 2023 Winning Photo - Jud Christian Covered Bridge by Mark Koskulitz

Become a Covered Bridge Enthusiast!

Learn more about our historic covered bridges, and the various events, puzzle releases, photo contests, and more that happen throughout the year!
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Bike the Back Roads & Discover our Covered Bridges

To create a cycling trip specifically with the covered bridges in mind, be sure to check out these great cycling route options!

COVERED BRIDGES FULL LOOP

For shorter "half" options:
COVERED BRIDGES - NORTH LOOP
COVERED BRIDGES - SOUTH LOOP

Thanks to enthusiast Jared Fenstermacher for putting the routes together.