Bridge societies publish newsletters, magazines, or bulletins informing members of news related to covered bridges. Pennsylvania state information centers provide booklets about their counties, their covered bridges, and how to find them. The National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges publishes a book – the World Guide to Covered Bridges – listing information about all known covered bridges in the world. Pennsylvania's Covered Bridges: A Complete Guide, by Benjamin and June Evans, provides directions to every covered bridge in Pennsylvania.
The World Guide reports that 814 authentic covered bridges are standing in the United States today. Pennsylvania has about one-fourth of them, with 210. Lancaster County has 28 covered bridges; Columbia County has 24; and Washington County has 23.
(Photo: Courtesy of Jim Smedley)
Various events promote and educate the public about the bridges. The second week in May of each year is "See Pennsylvania Covered Bridges Week." Bridge societies conduct weekend safaris each year during the summer months, usually visiting more than 20 bridges. In the winter, bridges are decorated for the holidays, most notably Pool Forge Covered Bridge in Lancaster County.
One of the oldest Pennsylvania covered bridges still standing and often visited is the Uhlerstown or Lock 18 Canal Covered Bridge in Bucks County. Located in a picturesque setting, this 101-foot structure built in 1832 crosses the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania Canal on the western edge of Uhlerstown.
About half of the covered bridges in Pennsylvania are either bypassed or have been moved to community parks. Some can be found on biking or hiking trails. Half of one bridge in Union County rests on penitentiary grounds. Fortunately, many of the bypassed bridges are well-preserved, and the areas around them have become tourist attractions that include picnicking facilities and playgrounds.
Most often held in the fall of the year, annual covered bridge festivals focus attention on these historic treasures. Festivals contribute to the beautiful images that the public has of covered bridges nestled in quiet, serene settings.