In 1818 Isaac Rinard established a gristmill on Little Muskingum River about one and a half miles south of this location, and Baldwin Cox built a sawmill nearby. A small hamlet, known as Rinard's Mills, developed at the site of these early industries.
In June 1866, the Monroe County Commissioners met, "on the banks of the meandering Muskingum, for the purpose of ascertaining the views of the citizens of that part of the county in regard to the location of a bridge across that beautiful stream." One month later, the commissioners appointed James Lanig to survey two sites, one on the road from Graysville to Cochransville and one at Old Camp Run, and to prepare plans and specifications for one or two bridges over Muskingum Creek. Lanig examined the proposed sites and prepared plans for a bridge near F.A. Lampings. A notice to bridge builders published in the local newspaper specified that the bridge at the mouth of Clear Fork was to be: "a covered bridge ... 90 feet long and 14 feet wide, abutments to be 36 feet high." On December 2, 1866, the county entered into a contract with Fouts and Townsend, contractors from Beverly, Washington County, Ohio, for the erection of two bridges across Muskingum Creek, "one at Jacob Clines and one at or near the mouth of clear fork," for $6,300.
No documentation regarding the actual construction of the bridge has been found, but the description above closely matches the center span of the present bridge. Physical evidence strongly suggests that the timber arches flanking the trusses were also part of the original construction. The floor beams and roof system show no evidence of having been extended to accommodate the addition of the outer arches, and the outer faces of the timber trusses show no evidence of ever supporting battens or exterior sheathing. According to the Monroe County Commissioners Records, the bridge at this location was completed in 1867.
On August 10, 1875, the local newspaper reported, "The approaches to the bridge on Clear Fork of Muskingum Creek having been washed away, the County Commissioners will meet there on Tuesday the 17 inst, to let the contract for the repair of the same." A subsequent notice of this meeting is somewhat confusing, in that it refers to the erection of abutments: "The County Commissioners met at the mouth of Clear Fork the 17 inst., and contracted with O.F. Flint, Esq., to erect abutments to replace those recently carried away by the floods." It is not known whether the approaches or abutments were repaired, although the Monroe County Commissioners Records show that O.F. Flint was paid $756.89 for "stonework, trusselwork and fills on Crumb [sic] Bridge across muskingum creek."
It appears that the present approach spans were built in 1884. Since they are now covered, the exterior of the bridge gives the appearance of having been the one built; however, a comparison of the interior of the center and approach spans shows that the framing members are sized differently, the floor system is put together differently, and there are distinct breaks in construction at the piers. On September 23, 1884, the Monroe County Commissioners contracted with the Okey brothers for "building and erecting two new wooden approaches to Crum Bridge across Muskingum Creek near the mouth of Clear Fork." The same day, they awarded a second contract to Cornelius Okey "to build and raise, with dressed sandstone, in a good and workmanlike manner, the two abutments at the end of the approaches to Crum Bridge, to such a hight [sic] that the floor of the approaches will be on a level with the Bridge floor; said work to be done for $3.00 per perch of masonry, and to be completed immediately, so as not to cause delay in building the approaches to the Bridge by Okey and Bro."
The bridge was apparently rebuilt in 1896 following a flood that damaged the structure and abutments, although the exact nature of that rebuilding is unclear from the documentary evidence. The newspaper only reported that the bridge was damaged, but does not indicate the extent of the damage: "Last week this county was visited by the heaviest rainfall and most destructive floods ever known to our people. Thursday night and Friday it rained almost incessantly and the runs and creeks were swollen until they spread from hill to hill, sweeping almost everything before them...The Miller bridge, the Roth bridge, the Atkinson run bridge, the Payne's run bridge and the Negro run bridge along Sunfish creek, were washed away. On Muskingum creek the I.N. Dougherty bridge was washed away and the Foreaker bridge and the Long bridge at Rinard's Mills were damaged. It is also reported that the bridge at Pryor's station was carried off. The county commissioners are making an investigation of the bridges this week and will take steps at once to repair them."
According to Monroe County Commissioners Records, the bridge was "supported temporarily," and in the fall of 1896, S.N. Cline was paid $350.16 for "raising and repairing abutments to Long Bridge" and I.P. Cline, a local stonemason, was paid $600.00 for "rebuilding Long Bridge."
The bridge reportedly floated off its piers during another flood in 1913, but it has not been possible to determine whether this incident actually occurred to the Long Bridge or to some other structure. The Monroe County Commissioners Records indicate that a wooden bridge was put back on its foundations in that year, but state that that structure spanned Clear Fork, which may be an entirely different location, or a garbled reference to this one, at the mouth of Clear Fork.
The bridge underwent extensive repairs in 1938, when Kentucky's covered bridge specialist, Louis Stockton Bower, Jr., added diagonal steel rods, additional floor beams and stringers.
In 1962, Earl Knowlton leased six acres of property adjacent to the bridge to the Knowlton Covered Bridge Park Association for a period of ninety-nine years. A committee of three trustees now cares for the bridge and park. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in the 1980s.
According to the Monroe County Assistant County Engineer, the bridge underwent extensive repairs in the early 1990s, including the addition of a large steel I-beam to strengthen the northerly span and the replacement of the exterior siding.