Covered bridges have a way of capturing the imagination. In America, their day in the sun -- or is it shade? -- only last about 50 years, from the late 1700s to the mid 1800s. Wrought iron that was forged in the steaming furnaces of the industrial revolution provided a cheaper, sturdier alternative to timber and thus the majority of America’s bridges were replaced with practical, albeit less artistic, updates. Uncovered bridges only had a shelf life of 15 - 20 years prior to the fabrication of iron supports, so covered bridges were a short-term cure.
Very few covered bridges survive today. The ones that do remain standing tend to be adored by the communities that keep them beautiful and functional, despite their outdated technology. Everett Bridge is just such an artifact -- and its mere survival is an impressive show of endurance. Ohio once boasted over 2,000 covered bridges. Now only 125 remain and Everett Bridge is the only one left in Summit County.
What Makes It Great
No one knows exactly how old the bridge is but given the hybrid construction of timber and metal, it was likely built towards the very end of the covered bridge era, sometime around 1875. Rumor has it that a farmer and his wife tried to ford Furnace Run River on horseback on a cold winter’s eve, only to be swept downstream by the raging current. The wife survived but the husband, John Gilson, did not -- his body was recovered four days later. This tragedy is said to have led to the building of the bridge, though there’s a good chance it was built long before this apocryphal tale.
Whenever it was built, the fact it remains today is a testament to its enduring charm. It received major repairs in 1913, 1975 and 1986. The bridge that stands today is mostly a replica built upon the ruins of previous incarnations. A contra dancing group frequently uses the bridge for its events, where footsteps resonate through the wooden floor as dancers whirl and twirl around. And for those who like a good ghost story, the bridge is alleged to be haunted by the spirits of John Gilson and his wife -- and possibly their horses, for good measure. An old graveyard that once stood at the terminus of the bridge was relocated but many spiritually-inclined believers feel the souls of the dead remain. And of course, there are tales of an ancient Indian burial ground.
Who is Going to Love It
Be it when the flowers bloom in spring or when the leaves change in fall, walking at the Everett Road Covered Bridge is always a good choice.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
No auto traffic is allowed through the bridge, though hiking, biking and horseback riding is permitted. Everett Covered Bridge is located at 2370 Everett Road in Peninsula, 1/2 mile west of Riverview Road and is easily reached by a short path to the bridge’s entrance. Bring your cameras to capture a glimpse of the Cuyahoga Valley’s past -- and perhaps the wandering ghost of the old farmer and his horse!
There are no fees to visit the bridge, despite being located in Cuyahoga National Park. Donations are encouraged to provide upkeep for the bridge and other points of interest within the park boundaries.