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by Jack R. Perry
Originally published in Hills Living magazine May, 2016
Last month I told you about some of my favorite places to visit and photograph around Ohio. I mentioned that Ohio has over 140 beautiful old wood covered bridges. Many of these bridges were built in the 1800Ős and have stood over 100 years. Some still in use with daily traffic. If you visit, be careful in crossing, most all are single lane. That is a lot of covered bridges to visit, but donŐt be overwhelmed, I am going to tell you how to do a fun day or overnight trip to visit a few of OhioŐs covered bridges.
May is one of my favorite times to take a covered bridge tour in Ohio. Spring because the leaves are not blocking the view and the creeks are full with spring rains. If you canŐt make a spring trip then plan now for a fall trip when the leaves change color. The changing fall leaves make a perfect backdrop for photos. You can visit around a dozen different covered bridges in a day trip and may even find some other cool things to do along the way.
Ashtabula County has eighteen covered bridges, many can be visited in a day trip. It is located on Lake Erie in the most NE corner of Ohio. Just a two hour drive from Canton, Ashtabula folks love their covered bridges. They have built a number of new ones and rehabilitated others. They hold a popular Fall Covered Bridge Festival October 8th & 9th in downtown Jefferson, Ohio. It will be their 33rd festival. For detail directions and information for the Fall Festival visit their website at www.coveredbridgefestival.org. They have marked out two different tour routes, a North & East tour with twelve covered bridges which covers 69 miles. The south tour includes six covered bridges and covers 68 miles. Watch for the roadside ÔTourŐ signs, they are up year around. You can download a bridge tour map at www.coveredbridgefestival.org/2013map-web.pdf. A few of my favorite Ashtabula bridges are the Harpersfield, Warner Hollow Rd/Windsor Mills, Middle Road and State Road bridges. DonŐt forget Ashtabula County has a few wineries you can visit and even have lunch or dinner while sampling some wines.
If you prefer a little more rural self guided tour or prefer to drive south then Washington County Ohio will be where you want to go. It is located in SE Ohio on the Ohio River with only two percent of the countyŐs 635 square miles consisting of urban areas. The county seat is Marietta and where you would to start your bridge tour. It is a two hour drive from Canton also. Marietta is a thriving old river community with much history. They have an annual Ohio River Sternwheeler Festival in September, a Sweet Corn Festival in July, and the Washington County Fair in September. There is always the Campus Martius Museum, Henry Fearing House and the Ohio River Museum, just a few things you can do in addition to visiting covered bridges. There is the historic Lafayette Hotel, have lunch in the Gunroom and just walk around downtown along the rivers. You can spend the night and make it a weekend trip with the bridge tour. Remember the hotel is said to be haunted; quote www.onlyinyourstate.com: ŇAt Hotel Lafayette, guests have reported unexplained oddities for years. Missing items, suitcases turned upside-down and emptied shampoo bottles are just a few of the reported occurrences. The third floor is also supposedly haunted by a former owner of the hotel.Ó
I almost forgot about the Covered bridges, they have ten remaining bridges with three open to traffic and one located on private property. To visit the six bridges West of Interstate 77 it will take about three hours drive time. Be prepared for some very rural roads. Another three bridges and one in Monroe County are East of Interstate 77 driving North along Ohio Route 26 through the Wayne National Forest. Watch for old painted Mail Pouch Barns along the way. The Hills, Hume, Rinard bridges and the Knowlton bridge in Monroe County. Look for the bridge sign along OH26 and township road 384 for the Knowlton after the Rinard bridge. A few of my favorite bridges are the Root, Henry, Shinn & the Bell bridges. For driving directions on visiting Washington Country bridges www.mariettaohio.org/bridges.
Well, that is a lot of info on just a few of OhioŐs Covered Bridges. Want to know more; I have lots of great info in my covered bridge book visit www.ohioscoveredbridges.com or you can view or purchase my photographs from my website www.jack-perry.pixels.com/collections/covered+bridges+of+ohio. Watch for my in-depth articles and photographs of some of my favorite places in Ohio and surrounding states.