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Covered Bridges of Indiana County

Historical Background | Directions and Maps | References

“Easy and safe passage over the waters of the United States are much wanted.”
                                    - Charles Wilson Peale, An Essay on Building Wooden Bridges, 1797

Indiana County is home to four covered bridges constructed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The four bridges are Harmon, Trusal, Kintersburg and Thomas. The Thomas Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge in Indiana County that remains open to traffic. All four covered bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At one time Indiana County was home to at least 48 documented covered bridges. Locations of many of our lost covered bridges are available on our Historic Covered Bridges map. Information about lost covered bridges throughout the USA can be found at www.lostbridges.org.

The first bridge in Indiana County was constructed in 1804 at the Campbell's Mill in present day Burrell Township. In March of 1804 the Westmoreland County Court authorized $800 for construction of a bridge at the mill of Gen. Charles Campbell. The cost was to be charged to Indiana County. The Campbell's Mill Bridge was approximately 180 feet long.

The first covered toll bridge in Indiana County was located in Blairsville. Construction of the toll bridge was authorized by the PA General Assembly in 1821. By November 1822 the toll bridge was open and remained in use until January, 1874. You can read more about the Blairsville toll bridge here.

For more extensive information on Indiana County's covered bridges we recommend 'Country Crossing...Indiana County's Covered Bridges' published by the Indiana County Genealogical & Historical Society. The book, which includes information on all documented Indiana County covered bridges, is available for sale at the Society's Museum, located at Wayne Avenue & South 6th Street in Indiana, PA 15701.

Responsibility for management of the covered bridges was transferred to Indiana County Parks & Trails in May 2007. The Indiana County Commissioners have appointed a Covered Bridge Committee who will oversee the restoration, improvement and promotion of the bridges. Indiana County is committed to ensuring that the covered bridges are maintained for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. See our covered bridges map for more information on the location of each bridge or for a description of each bridge and a map to the bridges, please view and print our "Covered Bridges of Indiana County" brochure. (This is a two page, color Adobe Acrobat (pdf) document.)

Historical Background

Kintersburg Bridge

Year Built 1877
Truss Type Howe
Length 68 feet
Builder J.S. Fleming
Stream Crooked Creek
Number PA-32-05
Address 2730 Musser Road, Indiana, PA 15701
Coordinates: 40o 28' 4.729" N
79o 22' 31.291" W

Kintersburg Bridge was named by Isaac Kinter, a local shopkeeper in honor of his father John Kinter, a Revolutionary War veteran. J.S. Fleming, a Civil War veteran who was injured at the Battle of Cedar Creek, erected the bridge over Crooked Creek in September 1877. The bridge was constructed at a cost of $893.

The Kintersburg Bridge is the only Howe truss bridge in Indiana County and one of only four Howe truss bridges remaining in the state of Pennsylvania. Original design features of the Kintersburg Bridge included ten-foot overhangs at each portal. These overhangs were changed in the 20th century when the bridge was repaired. The bridge was bypassed in 1974.

Kintersburg Bridge

Harmon Bridge and Trusal Bridge are companion bridges located on the South Branch of Plum Creek, just off Five Points Road in Washington Township. Both the Harmon and Trusal Bridges are constructed with Town lattice trusses. The bridges are located in a very picturesque farm setting.

Harmon Bridge

Year Built 1910
Truss Type Town Lattice
Length 45 feet
Builder John R.Carnahan
Stream South Branch of Plum Creek
Number PA-32-04
Address 2725 Donahue Road
Creekside, PA 15732
Coordinates 40o 44' 3.222" N
79o 10' 32.183" W

Harmon Bridge is the youngest of the County’s four covered bridges. John R. Carnahan was awarded a contract to build a “frame covered bridge” over Plum Creek, near Dice’s. The contract specified that the bridge was to be completed within 30 days after the abutments were in place. The bridge was designed by Thomas Pealer, County Engineer, and was completed in July of 1910 at a cost of $525. Harmon Bridge is named after Civil War veteran J.S. Harmon.

Harmon Bridge Photo

Trusal Bridge

Year Built 1870
Truss Type Town Lattice
Length 41 feet
Builder Unknown
Stream South Branch of Plum Creek
Number PA-32-03
Address 1961 Trusal Road
Creekside, PA 15732
Coordinates 40o 43' 49.927" N
79o 11' 3.718" W

Trusal Bridge (also known as Dice’s Bridge) is the oldest of Indiana County’s covered bridges. At 41 feet the Trusal Bridge is the shortest of Indiana County’s covered bridges. It was named after Robert Trusal, a nearby property owner and Civil War veteran who owned the surrounding land at the time the bridge was built. Trusal Bridge is located about one-half mile downstream of the Harmon Bridge. The contractor and cost of the bridge construction are not known. The bridge was bypassed in 1990.

Trusal Bridge Photo

Thomas Bridge

Year Built 1879 (rebuilt in 1998)
Truss Type Town Lattice
Length 85' long, 14' roadway
Builder Amos Thomas
Stream Crooked Creek
Number PA-32-06 (2)
Address 280 Thomas Covered Bridge Road
Indiana, PA 15701
Coordinates 40o 39' 51.873" N
79o 14' 12.737" W

 

In June 1877 a county bridge over Crooked Creek near the property of John and Amos Thomas was approved for construction with the County to be responsible for two-thirds of the cost and John Thomas responsible for the remaining one-third of the bridge cost.

The bridge was not erected until 1879 when a notice was published for a “covered lattice bridge on the “Kittanning and Indiana Road”.  Amos Thomas was the contractor and Morton Fleming the superintendant of the bridge which was constructed at a cost of $545. Abutment stones and lumber were secured from the nearby area and the bridge was completed in November of 1879.

The bridge was once known as Thomas Ford Bridge; prior to the construction of the bridge there was a fording (stream crossing) in this location. When the railroad was constructed in this area in the early 1900’s the bridge was known as Thomas Station Bridge. The original Thomas Bridge was reported to be the only Town lattice truss bridge in the United States constructed with a single supporting chord, rather than the normal two chords.

The Thomas Bridge was completely reconstructed in 1998 at a cost of slightly more than $1,000,000. The current bridge has a 20-ton weight limit. The Thomas Bridge crosses over Crooked Creek in Armstrong Township, near Yarnick’s Farm Market.

Thomas Covered Bridge Photo

Driving Directions

Please see our Covered Bridges of Indiana County map for detailed driving instructions on getting from bridge to bridge. Please also view our Historic Covered Bridges map for information on the locations of bridges that no longer exist in the county.

All four bridges are within easy driving distance of one another.

We have also created a convenient Covered Bridges Driving Tour brochure in order to help you visit all of our wonderful covered bridges.The tour begins on Philadelphia Street in Downtown Indiana and travels in order from the Kintersburg Bridge to Harmon Bridge , Trusal Bridge and Thomas Bridge. The total distance of the driving tour is about 36 miles round trip.

References

For more information about covered bridges we recommend:

Pennsylvania’s Covered Bridges – A Complete Guide, Ben & June Evans, University of Pittsburgh Press, Second Edition, 2001.

Country Crossings…Indiana County’s Covered Bridges, D.S Leathers, The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, PA, 2008 (available for sale at the Society’s Museum, South 6th Street and Wayne Avenue in Indiana, PA 15701). The book contains background information, sketches by Margaret “Peggy” Blosser and watercolor paintings by James F. Yanity of covered bridges that once stood in Indiana County.