09 August 2007

The Wertz Covered Bridge

One of my goofy riding missions is to "collect" covered bridges, and Berks County is a great place to start since it boasts five historic and notable covered bridges. Last night, I snapped up the first bridge: Wertz's Covered Bridge near the Reading Airport. (Again, pardon the poor camera phone quality. I swear I'm buying a new camera soon.)

Also known as Red Bridge, the Wertz is the longest single span covered bridge in Pennsylvania. The stats:

Length: 204'
Width: 15'
Built: 1867
Builder: Amandas Knerr
Truss: Burr
Stream: Tulpehocken Creek
WGCB Number: 38-06-06
Also known as: Red Bridge

One of my favorite aspects of any historic area is to find little physical details that aren't always noted in the visitor center brochures.

For example, the bridge is also adjacent to the old Union Canal. The canal was a massive structure with a history going back to William Penn himself. If you ride to the Heritage Center side, the gravel hiking trail along this bank happens to run parallel to a wide trench which was once the Union Canal. In places along the trail, you can even see the old stones used as the walls of the manmade waterway, and at the Gring's Mill park, the towpath and canal remain intact and preserved. More on the Union Canal here.

The bridge is the only Berks covered bridge which is closed to vehicle traffic, but on the Tulpehocken Rd side of the bridge near the park area, you can ride on a small section of the old road which once ran up to- and over the bridge. I love things like that. Remnants of old roads, old structures. I like to imagine what the terrain used to look like before progress changed the landscape (for better or worse, depending on the case).

One down, four more to go: The Dreibelbis Bridge, The Kutz's Mill Bridge, Griesemer's Bridge and The Pleasantville Bridge.

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