The other day we woke up to temperatures below 10 degrees. The sun was shining brightly, there was a brand new coating of snow from the night before and I was bored! So I said to my ever so patient husband John, "Let's go somewhere! Anywhere!" He explained that it was REALLY cold outside and I said, "I have long johns!" I then suggested that we could get some amazing pictures of covered bridges with the newly fallen snow and that we do have 4-wheel drive. He finally conceded and off we went to Bedford County, in search of pretty pictures and a cure for the winter doldrums.
hatBedford County has 14 covered bridges (and oh so much more). Our first stop was at Old Bedford Village which is home to the Claycomb Covered Bridge. This bridge was built in 1880 and was originally found in the village of Reynoldsville. It was moved from that location in 1975 and now serves as the entrance to Old Bedford Village along Route 220 just south of the Bedford Turnpike exit.
If you've never been to Old Bedford Village, you need to plan a trip. This place is really neat because it is a living history museum. There is an entire 18th-19th century town where you can visit with the blacksmith, buy penny candy in the general store and understand how life was lived back then. Nearly all of the buildings in town are period and have been moved from their original locations. It makes perfect sense why they would have moved the bridge too - right?
Although Old Bedford Village has created an 18th century town, further exploration into downtown Bedford will delight most history buffs with current day history. Did you know that George Washington, shortly after becoming President, took a ride to Bedford? Unfortunately, his reasons were not pleasant. You see, the First President of the US came to Bedford to calm the locals down a bit and explain to them that taxes were necessary to pay for the war they just won. The taxes in question were on grain alcohol. For farmers in Bedford (and points west) it was easier to distill the grain they grew then to store it. They also used the distilled whiskey as a form of currency. When the tax came about, they rebelled. After a few skirmishes with tax collectors President Washington decided to make a show of power. He raised 13,000 militia and marched to Bedford County in 1794.
He and his staff stayed at the Espy House, which can still be found in downtown Bedford and he housed his troops on the lawns of the Bonnet Tavern which is where John and I had dinner. (more on that later)
Two farmers were arrested and held for treason during Washington's visit, but after a few months, The President pardoned them and everyone began paying their taxes. This was the first time a federal law had been enforced and it happened in Bedford! Pretty cool!
A few years ago, while I was working for the TV Station, I was sent to Bedford to cover a story of a guy running for U.S. President on the Prohibition Party - I said to him, "Don't you find it ironic that you're running for President of the United States on the Prohibition Party and one of your first stops is the site of the Whiskey Rebellion?" He looked at me all wide eyed and responded, "I don't know your history." SERIOUSLY?!?! Obviously, we never heard from him again...
On our way out of town we noticed something totally awesome on the side of the road. It looked like a giant coffee pot... because it was a giant coffee pot! I was in love!
This big, beautiful pot of Joe sits next to Business Route 30 adjacent to the Bedford fairgrounds and is an example of 1920 programmatic architecture. The Coffee Pot was built in 1927 and was a lunch stand catering to weary travelers along the newly built Lincoln Highway. Today the building stands as a reminder to the early days of Sunday car rides.
I swear we did go look at covered bridges. The next stop we made was near Schellsburg just off of Route 30.
The Colvin Covered Bridge crosses Shawnee Creek on T-443. The bridge was built in 1880, has multiple King Posts as supports from the Burr Truss and you can drive across it.
As we made our way to New Paris on Route 96 we saw this beauty. The Cuppett's Covered Bridge sits off of Route 96. You can't drive over this bridge but there is ample parking so you can get out, take pictures and marvel in its architecture. This bridge is 60 feet long and was built in 1882.
Did you know that the original builders of covered bridges covered them to keep them out of the weather? The "roadway" of these bridges was made of wood, so they thought by covering them they could make the roadway last 20 or more years. Apparently it's worked because, here we are, more than 100 years later and we were able to drive across at least half of the bridges we visited. More importantly, even though some of the bridges weren't accepting cars any longer - they were still standing and welcoming visitors.
The next stop on our covered bridge tour was the Ryot Covered Bridge that crosses Dunnings Creek off of Dunnings Creek Road. This bridge has a cool story. You see it's fairly new. The original bridge, built in the 1880's was lost to a fire in 2002. The Bedford County Commissioners rebuilt the bridge using old technology and new building materials. It was reopened to traffic in 2004 and connects Route 96 with Route 56.
Just down the road from the Ryot Covered Bridge is one of the first covered bridges I ever took a picture of. I still have it framed in my house because it's so darn pretty. This is the Dr. Knisely Covered Bridge. It also crosses Dunnings Creek is only about a half-mile off of Route 56 close to five miles from I-99 (exit 3). This bridge is privately owned and you cannot drive across it, but there is a place carved out along the road to park and walk across this beautiful structure.
The last bridge we stopped at was the Snooks Covered Bridge. This 1883 bridge can be found on the other side of Route 56 - about a mile from Dr. Knisely's bridge. The Snooks Covered Bridge can be driven across. The 82 foot Burr Truss design also spans Dunnings Creek on what was once Jacob Snooks land. The bridge is now owned by Bedford County.
After all these bridges, I was hungry. Even though there are many fine restaurants in Bedford County, we found ourselves traveling back to the site of the Whiskey Rebellion and one of my most favorite places to eat - The Jean Bonnet Tavern.
The Jean Bonnet sits at the intersection of Routes 30 and 31 just outside of Bedford Borough. This place has been serving food and spirits continuously since the mid-1700's. Today you can sit next to the big fireplace and have a cold one from a pewter cup and eat your dinner from a pewter plate. I had one of my favorites from the Jean Bonnet - the french-dip steak sandwich.
The Tavern is open for lunch and dinner. They also have fine dining and you can even stay the night in the bed and breakfast. Now fair warning - some people believe the place is haunted and in speaking to some of the staff - they seem to believe the stories are true. You can ask them for their "ghost book" to look at while you're waiting for your food. So, if you're into a hauntingly good time, come hang out at the Jean Bonnet, maybe the Whiskey Rebellion isn't as long ago as you might think.
We had a seriously great time in Bedford County on a cold January day. We saw stuff he hadn't seen before, learned some history and had a wonderful meal. We are only about an hour from Bedford County proving you don't even have to go far to find fun! I urge you to look around your own area and see what you can do for an afternoon. Let us know where you went and perhaps we can feature your area on our next YouTube adventure.
Speaking of YouTube - check out the latest video highlighting Bedford County. You can go there by clicking this link. https://youtu.be/fGitmWp5fP8 or search for The Fun Chasers on You Tube.
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For even more info on Bedford County Covered Bridges check out this website: https://www.visitbedfordcounty.com/coveredbridges/