October 1, 2021
BLOOMSBURG, PA – The Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce a brand new mobile passport initiative featuring the historic covered bridges of Columbia & Montour Counties. The passport program is free to sign up and encourages both visitors from outside the region and locals alike to get out and experience the area’s 25 covered bridges. Once signed up, program participants will be emailed a customized link that will grant them access to the passport dashboard. No mobile app or download is needed; the program operates in a mobile friendly web-based platform.
The passport program was created to encourage a continued appreciation of the area’s wooden treasures. “When considering we have one-eighth of Pennsylvania’s remaining covered bridges right here in our two county region, it’s pretty impressive”, remarked Shane Kiefer, Director of Marketing for the Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau. “People certainly will think of going to Lancaster County to see Pennsylvania covered bridges, but with twenty-five bridges in our area, we have the third-most in the United States, just slightly behind Lancaster County and Parke County, Indiana.”
Covered bridges are symbols of simpler days, and of quiet time spent in the countryside. Sometimes known as “kissing bridges”, covered bridges were often a location for courting couples to meet. Many adults who grew up near a covered bridge will also fondly recall memories of days spent fishing under the bridge’s wooden planks, or long summer days with their childhood friends playing in the stream. “These bridges are quite simply a fond memory for many people, and we wanted to remind everyone of just how special it is to have so many preserved bridges in our backyard,” Kiefer said.
Finding a fond memory on the journey isn’t the only benefit of completing the new passport trail’s check-in stops, however; travelers who score at least 13 check-ins will be mailed a free embroidered patch commemorating their journey in the counties. And for those enterprising users, a completed passport with 25 check-ins will get them an entry into a year-end grand prize drawing for a $750 gift card to the Inn, Farmhouse, & Brewing Company at Turkey Hill in Bloomsburg.
Another added benefit will be the knowledge that participants’ visits will be counting toward continued preservation of the bridges. After a milestone goal is hit with check-ins, the Visitors Bureau plans to coordinate a $50,000 donation to the Columbia County Covered Bridge Association in 2022 to make significant restorations on the Stillwater Covered Bridge.
To begin a journey using the new passport, interested participants should visit: iTourColumbiaMontour.com/cb-passport to find more details about the new passport, see which bridges are on the trail, and get signed up.
After receiving the email, travelers can begin their adventure to the various covered bridges throughout the counties. Once nearby one of the included bridges, users will select that bridge from the dashboard menu and click a “Check-In” button to receive check-in credit for visiting the bridge. The passport operates using GPS geolocation services, so users can only receive credit for checking in when they are within range of the bridge.
Kiefer also noted the passport will provide historic details and facts about each of the bridges for travelers to actively learn along the way. “This is not only a fantastic educational opportunity for families young and old, but it is also a great pandemic activity for those looking to avoid crowds – the beauty is that it can just be you and your family in the car for an old-fashioned road trip if you’d like.”
With the area’s rural beauty, cellular service may be limited or not available for some of the area’s bridges. If participants are unable to get enough service at one or more of the bridges to be able to activate the check in button, they are asked to simply take a photo of the bridge with their phone. Once back home, or in an area with adequate service, they may email photo(s) as verification to a passport support email (provided in the dashboard). Visits will be verified and manually checked-in within one week.
Those looking to visit the covered bridges during the height of fall foliage season will be just in time – peak colors for 2021 are expected the weeks of October 18th and 25th in Columbia & Montour Counties.
For more information about the Columbia-Montour region, and other things to see and do in the area while visiting the historic covered bridges, please visit www.iTourColumbiaMontour.com or contact the Bloomsburg Welcome Center at 570-784-8279.
Header photo credit to: Ben Prepelka