Maybe it’s a bit kitschy, but we visited a covered bridge and had a good time doing it. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea (we were made fun of one time when we took the old highway instead of the interstate just so we could drive across one. But you know what? Other than the whining- not toddlers- college students in the back seat, it was one of the best road trips we’d ever taken). You may be interested to know that there actually is a reason they covered the bridges and it wasn’t just so that couples could kiss on it or so the bridge could be on the cover of a Calendar 100 years later. They covered them because most of these bridges were built with wood, the covering on them helped to keep the wood from rotting out rendering the bridge useless. This greatly extended the life of these bridges. One of the geniuses in the world of bridge design was a man named William Howe. William Howe was one of 9 kids, many of whom became inventors in their own right. One of his brothers invented the first commercially viable sewing machine and another invented the box spring mattress. So tonight when you struggling to go to sleep, think how many Howes it took to bring that mattress to you. So far I’m counting three as long as you consider that most modern bridges incorporate some of the principles of the William Howe Truss design. William began working in a construction company that specialized in Church buildings, but his passion was in bridge building. He designed the original Howe Truss design and had it patented. He partnered up to form a bridge building company and later sold that patent to his partner so that he could experiment with an improvement on that design. The bridge that we visited is one of the few historic Howe Truss bridges west of the Mississippi and one of only 3 left in Missouri.
The Sandy Creek bridge was built for $2,000 in the 1870s as part of a series of 6 bridges connecting the road from Hillsboro to St. Louis County. This was to make it easier for Jefferson County and St. Louis County to work together. Less than 15 years later a heavy flood wiped out the bridge, but the order was given to replace it immediately and reconstruction began. The project cost only $1000 and used more than half of the original timbers. With the exception of a couple of refurbishments over the years, the bridge that stands today is all original and was open to traffic up until the 1980s. Now the road ends in a small state park which is perfect for picnics, swimming, and photo ops (which is what we used it for.) We shared our video of the bridge’s history and many people who grew up in St. Louis shared their fond memories of swimming underneath the bridge. Over all, a great destination for a Sunday Drive and a Sunday picnic.
Until next time, thanks for driving with us.