Historic Structures

Kidd's Mill Covered Bridge, Greenville Pennsylvania

Date added: May 27, 2016 Categories: Pennsylvania Bridges

In the 1850s, Robert D. Kidd established a mill near this site. The road and crossing were established sometime between 1848 and 1860, when they appear on G.M. Hopkins' "Map of Mercer County, Pennsylvania." No documentation has been found concerning the first bridge at this location, except that it was repaired in 1859.

In February 1867 a flood destroyed the bridge at Kidd's Mill. The present covered bridge was reportedly built the following year. No records have been found concerning its construction. Two courthouse fires at the turn of the century reportedly destroyed the Mercer County records. There are also no local newspapers from the late 1860s.

Kidd's Mill Bridge carried traffic for over a century. In the early 1960s, the covered bridge was bypassed and slated for demolition by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but Mercer County adopted a resolution to maintain the structure as an historic landmark. Kidd's Mill Bridge continued to carry local traffic until 1979, when an overloaded vehicle fractured several truss members and rendered the bridge unsafe. In 1989, Mercer County leased the bridge for ninety nine years to the Shenango Conservancy, a local non-profit organization. In 1990 the Conservancy rehabilitated the structure and currently maintains it as an historic landmark and tourist attraction.

Pennsylvania is the birthplace of the American covered bridge. In 1804 Timothy Palmer, a master carpenter from Massachusetts, built the 500' Permanent Bridge over the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia. Shortly after its erection, at the urging of the bridge company, Palmer weatherboarded and roofed the structure to protect the trusses from the weather, making the Permanent Bridge the first covered bridge in the United States. By 1810, covering timber bridges was conventional practice in America.

Pennsylvania was also the proving ground for many early timber truss designs, among them several bridges of unprecedented size, such as Lewis Wernwag's 340' Colossus (1812) and Theodore Burr's 360' McCall's Ferry Bridge (1815). These early bridges served as prototypes for thousands of covered bridges that were built across the United States in the nineteenth century. During the height of the covered bridge period (ca.1830-1880), Pennsylvania had an estimated 1,500 covered bridges. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the majority of these were lost to decay, flood, arson and progress. Today with 209 examples, Pennsylvania holds the distinction of having the most covered bridges of any state in the United States.