Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review of a Missouri Covered Bridge

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site

covered bridge photo
I find covered bridges to be a fascinating part of the American past, but I had not read much on their history till my recent visit to Sandy Springs Covered Bridge.

A few of the interesting facts I picked up on this trip include:
  1. Covered bridges date back to 786 B.C. 
  2. Many early American covered bridges were toll bridges 
  3. One advantage of the covered bridges were that they reassured farm animals when they crossed the water..
I also was able to take some photographs of the historic covered bridge at Sandy Creek.

I hope enjoy seeing my photos and reading a few of the tidbits I found out about covered bridges.

photos by mbgphoto

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge - approaching the bridge

Sandy Creek Covered bridge approaching the bridge

The first bridge was built over Sandy Creek in 1872, but in May of 1886 it was washed away by high waters. In August of 1886 the bridge that still stands today was built.
Some other important dates for this covered bridge include:

> 1952-renovation
> 1967-Missouri declares all remaining covered bridges to be historic sites
> 1984-latest reconstruction

Today the bridge is only open to pedestrian traffic.

Inside a Covered Bridge - Howe-truss construction

Howe-truss construction on covered bridge

Here is a photo I took inside the covered bridge. In the early days there would have been posters inside the bridge that were used for advertisements, much like we use billboards today. Today we see writings on the walls and various graffiti.

Covered Bridge from Back Side - other side of the bridge

covered bridge from back side photo by mbg photo

In the 1800's bridges were made of wood and when they were uncovered their life expectancy would be only about ten years due to being exposed to the elements.
Covering the bridge increased the life expectancy and also had several other advantages. The barn type structure of the bridge made animals feel safer when they crossed and the covering helped to strengthen the structure. In addition the bridges could be used for emergency shelter.

History of Covered Bridges - from Sandy Creek Historic Site

history of covered bridges

The above photo of information at the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge Historic Site shows some of the history of covered bridges.

In Missouri the first covered bridges were built in the 1850's. Soon after the Civil War many more covered bridges were built, increasing the total in Missouri to 30 covered bridges. Over the years fire, abandonment and the elements have eliminated all but four of the bridges that are still standing today.

Side view of Missouri Covered Bridge - covered bridge through the trees

covered bridge through the trees

Tolls on the Covered Bridge

rates of covered bridge tolls

3 cents for a foot passenger

This photo shows the tolls that were charged on a covered bridge. Tolls were used to raise money to maintain the bridges, however there were no government regulations like the toll bridges of today. In fact, anyone who built a bridge could set their own tolls at whatever they felt was needed. The prices were quite random.

There also was usually exceptions to the tolls for people attending church on Sundays and for people going to town meetings.

Bridge view from Creek Bed - looking up at the bridge

bridge view from the creek bed

Information for this lens was obtained from posters at the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge Historical Site. All photographs were taken by myself, Mary Beth Granger.

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site - about 30 minutes south of St. Louis

From St. Louis

Travel south on Hwy. 21 to Goldman Road; turn left. Continue on this road until it ends at Old Lemay Ferry Road; turn right. Continue into the historic site.

Here is a puzzle I created on Zazzle from one of my photographs.
Sandy Creek Covered Bridge Puzzle
Sandy Creek Covered Bridge Puzzle by mbgphoto
Check out more Sandy creek covered bridge Puzzles at Zazzle

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I find covered bridges quite interesting, although sometimes a little scary. I can certainly understand why it is for pedestrian use only. I couldn't help but think when I was looking at your photos, what a shame that people have covered the interior with graffiti, but I am glad to see that they have left the exterior alone. I didn't realize that a toll charge was a normality. Very interest details and history for sure!

  2. That beautiful bridge has so much character. Rather amazing that the bridge has been standing for so long. Great photos! Thanks for the interesting history lesson!

  3. I've always found covered bridges fascinating and have seen quite a few (especially in New England), but didn't realize that one of the reasons for building a cover for a bridge (especially in the shape of a barn) was to reassure farm animals as they crossed the waters. Wish I'd known about this Sandy Creek bridge when I lived in St. Louis. I would have enjoyed seeing it. Perhaps on next visit back. :) Meanwhile, I have your beautiful photos to look at.

  4. Simply gorgeous! The photos are fantastic, absolutely one of my fave things, covered bridges in the country - Bridges Over Madison County (a fave movie) got me hooked on them - and at the end of the movie when the brother and sister spread their mother's ashes over one of the bridges has stayed in my mind since I first saw that film 'go well my children' ...honestly, I relate covered bridges to a moment like this - your photos are gorgeous

  5. thank you all for your kind comments. I heard from one reader that the bridge has been refurbished since my photos and the graffiti covered up. I'll need to visit it again someday.


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