Dozens of covered bridges once dotted the rolling countryside of rural Cumberland County.
The sturdy timbers and creaky boards of these barn-like structures carry a charm for a bygone era when the spans were important passages over local waterways.
Fire, flood and motor vehicles took such a heavy toll that there is only one survivor in its original location – the Ramps Bridge in Hopewell Township about two miles southeast of Newburg.
Tour Through Time this week takes a close look at what is perhaps the oldest bridge owned and maintained by Cumberland County. The plan is to preserve this bridge for its historic value.
Local author and historian Paul Gill included a profile of Ramps Bridge in his book “Drive the Road and Bridge the Ford: Highway Bridges of Nineteenth Century Cumberland County.” This span also went by the name of Failors Mill Bridge.
The initial petition for this bridge dates from September 1866 but was rejected by a grand jury. Though a second petition was approved in 1873, the county commissioners did not enter into a contract with builder Samuel Myers until Jan. 25, 1881.
It took Myers a year to build the wooden one-lane span at a cost of $2,173. The bridge is about 130 ft. long, 19 ft. high and 11 ft. above the low water mark.
Gill mentioned how the bridge was inspected on Jan. 13, 1882 and that extensive repairs were made to it in 1967. Though an arsonist tried to burn the bridge in 1991, that attempt was thwarted by Ken Jankura, a nearby resident who was able to extinguish the flames before serious damage was done.
Tour Through Time runs every Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work with staff at the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to offer a look at Cumberland County through the years.
Send any questions or future ideas to Cress at firstname.lastname@example.org.