In Kentucky, you’ll find a dozen covered bridges open to the public and one on private property, each one on the National Register of Historic Places.
Once numbering as many as 700 in the Commonwealth, these “timbered tunnels” eventually fell into disrepair. Some were destroyed by Mother Nature and many were burned during the Civil War. Others were replaced with modern structures. Here’s where to find the remaining engineering masterpieces that retain their links to the past.
Most of the Commonwealth’s covered bridges can be found in the North Central region of Kentucky– in fact, Fleming County is considered “The Covered Bridge Capitol of Kentucky” because of its three bridges and a covered-bridge festival and museum.
- Flemingsburg was home to four lovely covered bridges and the Covered Bridge Museum:
- Goddard-White Covered Bridge may be the only surviving example of architect Ithiel Town’s famous Lattice truss–be sure to notice the timbers joined by wooden pegs. On the 4th Saturday in August, Flemingsburg is home to the annual Covered Bridge Festival.
- Hillsboro’s Grange City Covered Bridge over Fox Creek is a good example of Theodore Burr’s 1814 patented truss design that employs multiple kingposts (vertical beams).
- Ringo’s Mill was erected to serve the grist mill on Fox Creek in the 1880s.
- Nearby is an historical marker noting location of the Sherburne Covered Bridge, which was destroyed by fire in 1981.
- The Johnson Creek Covered Bridge, constructed in 1874 in Mount Olivet (near Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort) is said to be the only known example of Robert Smith’s truss system in Kentucky and the only covered bridge known to have been built by Jacob Bower.
- The Cabin Creek Covered Bridge (also known as the Mackey-Hughes Bridge and the Rectorville Bridge) was built in 1873 in Lewis Country and was restored and reopened in 2014.
- The Walcott-White Covered Bridge north of Brooksville, is constructed with an interesting combination of king post and queen post truss design.
- Switzer Covered Bridge in Frankfort near scenic Elkhorn Creek was constructed in 1855 and totally restored after damage from the flood of 1997.
- In Springfield, Mt Zion is the longest surviving multi-span covered bridges in Kentucky; original cost in 1871 – $5000, paid by a special county tax.
- Colville Covered Bridge, the last remaining covered bridge in Bourbon County, was built around 1877, is still passable by car but drivers beware: it’s said to be haunted.
- Oldtown Covered Bridge, built in the 1880s, is a double post-and-brace bridge.
- Bennett’s Mill in South Shore, a rare Wheeler truss covered bridge; original footings and frame still intact, is said to be “the oldest, longest, single-span covered bridge in the world”.
KY Bridge Trivia
- In 1870-71, the Butler Station Bridge over Licking River was the longest wooden bridge (456 feet) but it was torn down in 1937 after severe damage from wind and flood waters.
- Valley Pike Covered Bridge in Mason County is one of the shortest covered bridges in Kentucky, but it’s also the only privately owned historic bridge in Kentucky.
- There are 40 bridges and tunnels listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Kentucky; 16 of 40 are covered bridges but only 13 of those remain.
For more information about covered bridges in Kentucky, see Covered Bridges: Focus on Kentucky by Vernon White (Berea, Ky. 1985), Kentucky Covered Wooden Bridges and Water-Powered Mills by Robert A. Powell (Lexington, Ky. 1984)