Skip to main content

Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge - Maryland

 


Located next to MD 272 just north of North East, Maryland, the Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge in Cecil County was built in 1860 by Joseph G. Johnson at a cost of $2,000. One of two remaining covered bridges in Cecil County, the Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge is a 119 foot long, Burr arch truss designed bridge and is the longest covered bridge that is still standing in the State of Maryland. It once carried horses, wagons and their riders to reach a flour mill located near the bridge.

A notice appeared in the The Cecil Whig on September 8, 1860 requesting bids for building a bridge over Northeast Creek at Gilpin's Falls of which the contract to build was awarded to Joseph Johnson. Although not confirmed, this could mean the bridge was likely completed sometime in very late December 1860, or early in 1861. While it just sits a few feet above the water, the strength of Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge is evidenced by it surviving all of the various floods in northeast Maryland in Cecil and Harford counties during the middle to late 19th Century, while many other covered bridges and iron bridges were lost.

The Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge was bypassed in 1936 by MD 272. Once bypassed, the old bridge was left neglected until the City of Salisbury, Maryland showed an interest to purchase the bridge and move it to a city park. Although Salisbury's effort failed, that inspired Cecil County to save the covered  bridge. After the bridge's roof collapsed from a heavy snowfall in 1958, the Historical Society of Cecil County and The State Roads Commission of Maryland decided to do a major rehabilitation of the bridge. As much of the wood stock as possible was used to repair the bridge in 1959 and a dedication ceremony was held in 1960. The Baltimore Sun reported in an article on November 11, 1959 that the repairs to the bridge cost $11,000. But an act of vandalism happened at the covered bridge in October 1971, when a group of thirteen people decided to kick out several boards. Then, on November 10, 1971, the west side of Gilpin's was damaged. 1971 was not a good year for the bridge! Cost of repairs was over $500.

By the late 1980s, the Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge was again in need of repair. In 1986, the State of Maryland planned to widen MD 272 and considered moving the bridge to a different location. A local citizen organized the Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge Committee and fought to keep the bridge at its current location and also started a fundraising campaign to restore the covered bridge. In 1989, the State of Maryland turned over ownership of Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge to Cecil County and provided $50,000 for necessary repairs. Afterwards, a steel plate was installed to secure one of the beams, siding was replaced, two coats of paint were applied and the wingwalls and bridge abutments were rebuilt. The Cecil County Roads Department installed posts and chained fences at each portal entrance to keep out cyclists and three wheelers.

Even with the repairs that took place, the covered bridge still needed additional work, which was estimated to cost $200,000 in 1993. Then, in 1999, an insect analysis was performed on the bridge and showed damage done by beetles to the bridge's timbers. Meanwhile, the estimated cost for repairs rose to over $300,000. The Maryland Transit Authority agreed to award $260,000 towards bridge restoration provided that Cecil County helped with matching funds. However, Cecil County elected to not contribute and the bridge's future appeared to be uncertain. As time passed with nothing being done to save the bridge, the estimated cost for restoration grew again, this time to over $800,000. Money was continued to be raised for preservation efforts at the time. In 2004, Cecil County rejected all bids submitted for the rehabilitation process and in 2005, no bids were received. It would be just a matter of time that the bridge's future would be determined, for better or for worse.

In 2008, the Federal Highway Administration awarded a large grant for rebuilding Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge under the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation program. Additional grants arrived from the Maryland State Highway Administration and Maryland Historic Trust. These grants, along with private donations covered nearly all of the money needed, now determined to be $1.4 million. The National Society for The Preservation of Covered Bridges also donated $8,000 to fully fund the project. That donation was the largest single amount of money the National Society ever contributed to a covered bridge project, a testimony to the importance of rehabilitating Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge. The National Society awarded the money on the condition that changes made to the covered bridge during the restoration process would be historically correct.

The Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge gets its name from nearby Gilpin's Falls, which was named after Samuel Gilpin, who bought the nearby land in 1735 and used the power of the falls for his saw and corn mills. After Samuel Gilpin passed away in 1767, the mill remained in operation by the Gilpin family until the 1860s. Then, in 1895, William Warburton bought the area surrounding the falls and converted part of the mill site into a power plant. Warburton sold the area to the Conowingo Power Company in 1926, who then proceeded to shut down the plant and mills in 1930. There has not been much change to the property surrounding the falls and old mill since then, however, the mills are no longer there. Retaining ponds and the related race courses at the bottom of the falls are the only surviving parts of the former mills. If you look around that area, you will find structural foundations to barns, stone walls, and a spring house. At the top of the falls, there is another retaining pond that empties into a large pipe.

Gilpin’s Falls is created by the Northeast Creek, cascading 106 feet in a span of about 2,000 feet. The boulders found here are made of meta rhyolite and igneous rock, plus there is also crystalized volcanic material present in the area. Add in the covered bridge and the ruins of a former mill site and you have plenty to explore during your visit. You can access Gilpin’s Falls and Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge in a few different ways. The main entrance is up by the covered bridge on MD 272, or you can hike down the nature trails located behind Cecil College. In all, this is a great place to visit and explore.









How to Get There:



Sources and Links:
Maryland Office of Tourism - Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge
Ben Tackett Photos - Gilpin's Falls
Maryland Covered Bridges - Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge
The Crazy Tourist - 12 Amazing Waterfalls in Maryland
Cecil County, Maryland - Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge
Bridgehunter.com - Gilpin's Falls Covered Bridge 20-07-01

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Ghost Town Tuesday; Vineland, Florida; the town killed by Disney

Vineland is a small ghost town located in southwest Orange County, Florida near the junction of Florida State Road 535 and Interstate 4.  Vineland is somewhat unique due to it largely being squeezed out of existence by Lake Buena Vista which is the company town where Disney World is located. Vineland was founded in the late 1800s as Englewood.  The town name of Englewood changed to Orange Center in 1911 before finally assuming the name Vineland in 1924.  Much like the rest of Orange County the community of Vineland was centered around Citrus Grove.  In the case of Vineland said orange groves were centered around Ruby Lake. The end of Vineland came as the Disney Corporation began purchasing parcels of citrus grove land to build Lake Buena Vista.  Vineland fell into a sharp decline in the 1960s but the community managed to continue to exist to modern times.  Much of the street grid of Vineland still exists east of FL 535 but most of the original structures are either gone or falle

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del