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12 Interesting Covered Bridges in New York (2023) | Facts & More

Some estimate that around 29 original covered bridges in New York State today. Covered bridges are a treasure for historical structure enthusiasts. These bridges are typically built over waterways and would serve as important landmarks or waypoints. 

But there’s so much more to covered bridges than coverings. These bridges opened up travel to more areas of the state and provided for travelers to find respite from the harsh New England winters. 

We can only talk about some of the covered bridges in the state here, but this list of 12 offers some idea of the history and architecture we encounter around the counties and hamlets. These bridges are part of the long list of historical New York places you must see.

Along with a brief background on the history and practical science, here are 12 covered bridges in New York you may want to visit. 

What’s so Special About Covered Bridges?

In North America, covered bridges served as practical value. They crossed waterways, enabling the movement of people and cattle. But they were also protected because they could sometimes be used for shelter from the elements. 

In the northeast, winters often saw harsh rain and snow. Weary travelers looking for respite could take a break from the elements under these covers. 

One often forgotten practicality of bridge roofs (but obvious when you think about it) is that they protected the bridges themselves. In harsh climates, with extreme cold in winter and heat in summer, the primarily wooden bridges took a lot of wear.

In practical terms, a standard bridge in the northern states could last around ten years before it needed repair. A cover significantly extends a bridge’s lifespan, protecting the structural support structures from the worst ravages of the elements.  

Side-Fact: Ironic Snow Challenges

Here is an interesting side note about covered bridges and snow, particularly during early settler times. The cover helped keep the snow off the bridge, and sometimes that was a good thing. But it was not always considered useful. 

In the early days of settlement, a lot of winter travel was done by sledge. This meant that snowless bridges were hard to cross. In what may seem strange to us today, snow was, therefore, actually shoveled onto covered bridges to allow sledges to pass over them. 

Are All Covered Bridges in New York Historical?

Many of the covered bridges in New York are historical or at least 100 years old. But not all of them. Most have also seen repair and refurbishment even recently. As you’ll see from the list, bridges have been relatively newly built to resemble their historical counterparts merely.

Let’s take a look at 12 particular bridges worth visiting in New York State.

12 Covered Bridges in New York

1. Beaverkill Bridge (Conklin Bridge)

Rockland

Originally known as Conklin Bridge, this structure was built over Beaver Kill. It is an impressive structure, with a length of 30 meters, looking quite fortified at a weight of nearly three tonnes. The original bridge was built in 1865.

beaverkill

Image by James Sammann from Pixabay

The bridge is credited with playing a significant role in helping populate what was then a somewhat remote part of the state. The bridge is one of two ways people can access the northern side of Roscoe Town, but some still regard it as insufficient for modern traffic needs.

Over the years, the bridge has been the subject of much debate between state and local county authorities. Much of the conflict surrounds the bridge’s upkeep, status and maintenance. 

Today, visitors can opt to enjoy the nearby Beaverkill Covered Bridge Campsite as part of their road trip.

2. Buskirk Covered Bridge 

Buskirk

The Buskirk Bridge is unique in New York State because it is the only bridge that takes you from one county to another. Specifically, it crosses between Rensselaer and Washington Counties, crossing the Hoosic River. 

Buskirk

Image by UpstateNYer

The bridge was built just before the Civil War in 1857. It has fallen victim to floods and high river damage throughout its life. It has been red-flagged by state authorities several times for safety reasons. 

In 2005, the Buskirk underwent extensive repairs and rehabilitation and is now considered safe again. Its facade makes for a striking image, glowing bright red (or pink) in the sunshine. 

3. Copeland Covered Bridge 

Edinburg

Just over 10 meters of this rustic-looking footbridge belies a certain uniqueness owing to its trussing. The unique Qureenspost style of truss is the only one in New York State.

The heavily forested setting also seems to throw you back into a time before technology and cars. The best way to enjoy this bridge is on a walk in the green surroundings of Saratoga County as you make your way across Beecher Creek. 

Copeland
Image by HunnySWeaver

The bridge was originally opened in 1879. It is named after local resident Arad Copeland, who moved here to run a sawmill (previously belonging to Ely Beecher). The bridge was built to allow Arad to move cattle to pasture across the river. 

Some parts of the original structure have been replaced through the years, but the bridge largely maintains its place as a popular tourist photo attraction. 

4. Downsville Bridge 

Downsville

Downsville Bridge’s 58m length is impressive, given that it was built in 1854. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places

The bridge is somewhat unique in design for this area and carries traffic across Delaware. It had to undergo some refurbishment in 1998 to raise the bridge’s safety standards to suit modern requirements. 

Downsville
Image by: HighAtop94

Local residents collaborated to establish a park near the bridge site, inviting all to enjoy the picturesque surroundings while visiting the bridge. The bridge is open to foot and vehicle traffic. 

5. Eagleville Covered Bridge 

Jackson / Salem

The Eagleville Bridge crosses the Battenkill and is situated in Jackson and Salem in Washington County, NY. Interestingly, there were two previous versions of the bridge, the names and history seem to be at least partially lost to time. As it stands today, the bridge offers access to Cambridge and Vermont for residents of Eagleville. 

Like many other bridges like these, it’s had its fair share of drama through the years. Much of it has to do with raging rivers and flooding. A famous story from 1977 tells how engineers diverted a flooding river just in time to save the bridge from destruction. 

Eagleville
Image by David Broad

While the bridge has been re-sides many times, its current color scheme of Venetian red is a throwback to the town’s 1940 paint color ordinance.

Sadly, jumping from the bridge into the river has been outlawed for years. This was a popular spot for summer swimming, with kids using the bridge as a perfect jump-off point. You can still swim in the river today, though you will have to wade in from the shore. 

6. Fox Creek Covered Bridge (Schoharie Bridge)

Schoharie

Many of the covered bridges in New York are at least a hundred years old or more. 

In a strange irony, the bridge itself is almost brand new compared to other covered bridges in the state. It was built in 1982. Fox Creek Bridge does, however, lie within sight of a historic Revolutionary War location: The Old Stone Fort Museum. 

fox-creek
Image by Wildhart

That said, despite possessing a concrete arch, it was built to resemble a more rustic and historical side of NY. The bridge’s cover, featuring a classic lattice-style design, seems to place it firmly in the time of horse-and-buggy transit. 

7. Hyde Hall Covered Bridge

Glimmerglass State Park, Cooperstown

This is where history lies. Hyde Hall is the oldest covered bridge in the entire nation of the US. Most of these surroundings are historic, too, with the 19th-century mansion Hyde Hall and the Glimmerglass State Park within touching distance.  

hyde-hall
Image by Waz8

The bridge was built in 1825 and stood across Shadow Brook. Visitors to the site usually enjoy visiting the nearby Glimmerglass State Park. The park provides beautiful foliage and small wildlife to admire. Two trail start at the bridge site: The BlueBird Trail and the Covered Bridge Trail. Both are about 1.5km long and make for a pleasant short stroll on a sunny afternoon. 

On a side note, Hyde Hall Bridge is also one of about 1600 covered bridges in the world that are original constructions. 

The bridge also uses a unique Burr Arch truss, very unusual for New York bridges of this type. 

8. Perrine’s Covered Bridge

New Paltz

The second oldest such bridge in New York was built in 1844. It is simply gorgeous, showing off an old, dark wooden exterior. The bridge forms an ideal waypoint on a hike through the local forest, like the simply mesmerizing walk over the Wallkill River in the Catskills. Try the Wallkill Valley Trail hike, for starters. 

perrine

Image by Chris888

Like Hyde Hall Bridge, this is one of only three bridges that use the Burr Arch. This particular bridge is named after a French settler James Perrine. 

9. Rexleigh Bridge

Salem

It’s hard to miss Rexleigh Bridge’s iconic red walls and triangular roof. It’s also known for what locals call cast iron shoes and Howe truss. The shoes were unusual for timber fittings, especially at the time of the refitting in 2007. 

rexleigh
Image by Doug Kerr

Rexleigh and Eagleville bridges are also popular swimming holes in the hot summer months. 

10. Salisbury Historic Bridge 

Dolgeville

Built in 1875, this is the only such bridge in Herkimer County. It is a modest 13m long. Interestingly, its builder, Alvah Hopson, built many bridges in the area at the time. Only this one remains today.

This is one of three remaining bridges that use the Burr Arch truss system, along with Hyde Hall and Perrine’s bridges; both are elsewhere on this list. 

salisbury
Image by Doug Kerr

Another unique aspect of the bridge is that its parts were pre-fabricated. They were manufactured off-site and then transported for an assembly where the bridge is now. The bridge remains open to traffic today due to extensive repairs and upgrades through the years. 

11. Thomas Kelly Covered Bridge

Allegany State Park, Salamanca

Of all the remarkably beautiful bridges on the list, the Thomas Kelly Bridge is a strong contender for the most beautiful. The rolling green lawn along the sides of the path leading up to the bridge is appealing. Add the bright coppers and rusts in the tall trees of a fall day, and you’re in a sensory heaven.

thomas-kelly
Image by Alan

The bridge itself isn’t bad to look at either, and that’s being understated. The lattice design on the cover provides large, diamond-shaped viewpoints from the crossing over Red House Creek.   

12. Ticonderoga “Kissing” Bridge 

Ticonderoga

The walk through Bicentennial Park and over the Ticonderoga Bridge leads to a view of the Carillion Falls via the La Chute River. The nickname “kissing bridge” isn’t as strange as it may seem. Many such bridges were historically known as kissing bridges or wishing bridges, and the reasons are slightly more colorful than you might assume.

In the old days, some believed horses and carts must be navigated over these bridges carefully and slowly. By that logic, driving through them too fast might cause them to become unsteady. When these carriages slowed down to pass through the bridges, couples might have taken the opportunity to steal a kiss under cover of the bridge. 

ticonderoga covered bridges in new york
Image by cjbeckingham from Pixabay 

In similar terms, traveling at night was often dangerous. When going through a dark and foreboding bridge with a covering, travelers would “wish” for safe passage. 

Like Fox Creek Bridge mentioned in this list, this bridge is near an important historical location. The nearby town of Ticonderoga is the first site of an American victory during the Revolutionary War, and the town maintains a quaint, historic look and feels even today. 

The look of this bridge brings the legend of Sleepy Hollow to mind. Look behind you as you cross, Ichabod Crane, especially if you hear horse hooves approaching. 

Bonus Bridge: Grant’s Millbrook Bridge 

Hardenburgh

Built in 1902, the bridge crosses Mill Brook. It’s quite lucky that the bridge can still be seen and visited today. A rerouting of local roads in 1964 took the bridge out of commission and fell into neglect.

Later, in the 1990s, residents and the original builder’s descendants decided to restore it. It was named Millbrook officially, as it had been previously known as Lattice Bridge and Grant’s Mill bridge, after a mill about three km along the road. 

Final Thoughts on Covered Bridges in New York

These are just a few of the 29 covered bridges visitors can see in New York. Most of them are historical or at least are built in a way to feel historic. Regardless, visiting these bridges offers a sense of how things were so different just over 100 years ago.

It was a matter of finding a bit of shelter from the harsh New England weather or simply having the convenience of crossing a creek or river, enabling access to more parts of the beautiful Empire State. 
Got a keen interest in bridges? These 14 famous bridges in New York are absolutely fascinating.

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