I've always been aware that there are covered bridges, mostly in North America. That they are...well, bridges, and they are covered(!).... they must be quite picturesque (or "picture-skew" as my dad used to say) because people seem to photograph them a lot, and Clint Eastwood made a movie that involved some in a place called Madison County.
That's it. That's all I knew.
Anyway, I know a bit more now, so I thought I'd share it with you.
- Madison County, Iowa, is not at all renowned for its covered bridges (it has only 6 of them). Its twin claims to fame are that the book/movie was set there, and it was John Wayne's birthplace.
- Top dogs in covered bridge ownership are Indiana 98, Quebec 100, Vermont 106 and Pennsylvania 200.
And why are all these bridges covered?
Well, most of our bridges were built in stone, or over the years we replaced wooden ones with stone. In the pioneering days of North America, wood was plentiful and quick to build with, but according to Wikipedia (which has a fair bit on covered bridges), it didn't last so long. They discovered they could extend the life of a bridge from almost a decade to 80 years if they put a roof on it to keep the rain off.
Personally, I reckon they also worked out that, like a box girder, it's much more structurally rigid.
It turns out there were a couple of supplemental benefits.
- Herds of cattle were less skittish crossing rivers when they were boxed in.
- Turn of the century lovers could achieve a lot of snogging, unseen by disapproving eyes, as they passed through on their buggies.
Next week... The lighthouses of Maine and New Brunswick