Bridge Club: Pine Grove Covered Bridge

Nestled on the edge of Little Britain Township is the 195-foot-long Pine Grove Covered Bridge. In addition to being the longest covered bridge in Lancaster County, it is also the only two-span covered bridge available for public use.

Pine Grove Covered Bridge.

The lengthy structure traverses the East Branch of the Octoraro Creek on the border between Lancaster and Chester Counties. Lancaster hired Union Army Captain Elias McMellen to construct the Pine Grove Covered Bridge in 1884 to replace an 1846 bridge in the same location that had been carried away in a destructive flood. McMellen was a well-respected and prolific Lancaster County bridge builder.

McMellen’s prolific career included the construction of 35 regional bridges ranging in type from iron, stone, and wood. His first bridge was over Chickies Creek at Snavely’s Mill when he was only 21 years old. His portfolio boasted 12 covered bridge, including Bucher’s Mill Covered Bridge (1891), Forry’s Mill Covered Bridge (1869), Kauffman’s Distillery Covered Bridge (1857), Keller’s Mill Covered Bridge (1873), Landis Mill Covered Bridge (1873), Lime Valley Covered Bridge (1871), Miller’s Farm Covered Bridge (1871), Pine Grove Covered Bridge (1884), Pinetown Bushong’s Mill Covered Bridge (1867), Red Run Covered Bridge (1866), Risser’s Mill Covered Bridge (1872), and Pool Forge Covered Bridge (1859).

Lancaster County entrance to the Pine Grove Covered Bridge.

The Pine Grove Covered Bridge has a two-span, wooden, double Burr arch truss design with the addition of steel hanger rods. The deck is made from oak planks and has the unusual design of the decking running perpendicular to traffic.

Fun Fact. The Burr Truss (also known as the Burr Arch and pictured below) was invented in 1804 by Theodore Burr. His cousin was Vice President Aaron Burr. Burr served as the nation’s third vice president from 1801 to 1805 during Thomas Jefferson’s first presidential term. His legacy is defined by his famous personal and political conflict with Alexander Hamilton, culminating in the infamous Burr–Hamilton duel on July 11, 1804. Burr mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the following days.

Just upstream from the covered bridge is the Octoraro Water Company Dam & Pump House (Visible in the image below). The dam and pump house were built in 1904 by the Octoraro Water Company to support the Pennsylvania Railroad operations in Coatesville.

Inside Pine Grove Covered Bridge with Octoraro Water Company Dam & Pump House visible in the background. It was built in 1904 and abandoned 50 years later.

The Chester Municipal Authority purchased all the property along the upper Octoraro Creek in the late 1940s and built a larger dam and pump facility to provide water to Chester County residents and businesses. The new facility came online in 1951, and the old pump house was abandoned. Today, the pump house is rented by the Octoraro Art Association, which uses it as a studio, show, and meeting space.

Planning Your Trip

From Lancaster County, Pine Grove Covered Bridge is at 8 Ashville Rd, Nottingham, PA. Here are the GPS coordinates: 39.793681, -76.044940. After crossing into Chester County, the road changes name to Forge Road.

Adventure Awaits!

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