The earliest manmade crossings of the Conestoga were primarily fords, piles of stone through which water could flow more or less. Interestingly, one of our Township corners with Lancaster Township (both formed in 1729) referred to the “Old Doctor’s Ford”. I’m still searching for discernment of that exact location today.
Years later, the need for more reliable and safer crossings prompted us to build bridges. The bridges over the Conestoga were plentiful, but not all were as long-lived as others. Modern loads of heavier vehicles and higher traffic volume necessitated them to be upgraded, expanded, and oftentimes replaced. We’re fortunate to have two covered bridges in close proximity.
The Pinetown Road bridge was built in 1867 at a cost of $4,500 and subsequently known by a host of other names. It was built between two grist mills and survived traffic and flooding for more than a century. One of the grist mills is visible in the below photo from the 1870s that also shows the slender arch bridge nearby, a portion of which still remains.
But, 1972 brought Hurricane Agnes to our doorsteps and the Pinetown bridge went for a trip down the river. A crew of Amish carpenters worked to mark every part so that it could be reassembled. Two cranes were used to lift the rebuilt bridge back into place. It was closed again for repairs after Tropical storms Lee and Irene.
The Hunsecker (or Hunsicker, if you’re on the Upper Leacock side) Road bridge was built in 1848 at a cost of $1,988 and was actually several feet lower than it is today, resulting in its being carried away in the flood of 1869. It came to rest in a meadow where it was dismantled and then rebuilt at its current location, although the foundations were rebuilt to give it three (3’) feet more clearance.
In 1961, the State planned to replace the bridge, but plans changed when our predecessor community members spoke out in opposition to the idea.
Hurricane Agnes also swept the Hunsecker Road bridge down the river again. This time, it made it all the way to New Holland Pike where it was stopped by the bridge and crushed. Three years later, an entirely new covered bridge was constructed to replace the one lost in the flood.
Nearby the Hunsecker Road bridge an eight (8’) foot high dam was built with a seventy-five (75’) foot long tail race to power a grist mill, cider press, and ultimately an electric plant. The original mill was built around 1808 as a three-and-a-half (3-½) story building forty (40’) feet long by thirty-six (36’) feet wide. In 1828, the land for the mill was purchased by Samuel Hunsecker and more than doubled in size.
One unique (and for cyclists annoying) aspect of the Hunsecker Road bridge is the horizontal floorboards. My wife and I live close by and so use both bridges frequently, rumbling across Hunsecker Road bridge.
Please be patient with us as we pause to smooch at the midpoint, an old-fashioned good luck practice. Another less-than-hard-fact belief is that both bridges are haunted. LNP has a video investigation on-line, nothing conclusive though. The earthly bridge tourists are really the ones you need to keep an eye out for.
Click here to read about other members of the Conestoga Bridge Club.