Take a Historic Bridge Tour Through Washington County
Take a Historic Bridge Tour Through Washington County
Bridges mark different eras in our national history. The first bridges were spans made of wooden logs or planks, then stones, using a simple support and crossbeam arrangement. The history of bridges is fascinating.
There are many historic bridges in Washington County...many dating back to the early 1800s. Load up the car...grab the family and go on a historic bridge tour of Washington County.
Wilson's Bridge (Route 40, The National Pike, West of Route 63) is one of the first of the stone bridges built in Washington County. This five-arch span was built in 1819, and erected by Pennsylvania Silas Harry, as a step in extending the National Road (Route 40) westward from Hagerstown. Today a larger bridge designed for 20th century traffic bypasses it.
Devil's Backbone Bridge (Over Little Beaver Creek on Route 68, just west of Alt Route 40, The Old National Pike) is a one-arch span built by Jabez Kenny was built in 1824. It spans the ford that General Braddock, his redcoats, colonial militia, and their Indian allies used to cross Little Beaver Creek in 1755.
Broadfording Bridge (Broadfording Road, West of Route 63) is an impressive five-archer. This bridge's length was dictated by the fact that it was to span the Conococheague-literally-at a "broad" fording. Built by the Lloyds of Pennsylvania in 1829, its center arch and next adjacent westward are considerably higher than the other three, even though the bridge itself does not rise with corresponding sharpness at it center.
Conococheague Bridge (In Williamsport, West of Route 63, North on Route 68, Clear Spring Road) is a four-arch built in 1829 by Charles Wilson & Co., agents of the Lloyds of Pennsylvania. It has survived two major remodeling projects-entailing addition of cantilevered concrete aprons to widen its roadbed-but still rests as soundly on its original arches as when it was first built.
Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport (at the foot of West Potomac Street, West of Route 63) is the second of the eleven aqueducts built from Georgetown to Cumberland to carry the C&O Canal over streams and rivers. It was built in 1834. It was shut down due to the great Potomac Flood of 1924.
Booth's Mill Bridge (On Route 68, Lappans Road, East of Route 65, the Sharpsburg Pike) was built in 1833 by Charles Wilson. This two-archer replaced a wooden bridge near the site of a powder mill. The bridge is surrounded by a park with picnic facilities, and convenient parking. It is a well-known fly-fishing spot and an excellent place to rent a canoe or kayak.
Burnside Bridge (Antietam Battlefield National Park, Route 65, Sharpsburg Pike) was built in 1836, just 26 years before the Battle of Antietam. This beautifully proportioned three-archer has been known ever since the Civil War by the name of the Union general who commanded the troops that used the bridge as the pivotal point for their flanking attack on the southern edge of Sharpsburg. Perfectly restored to its original condition today-even to the wooden coping that tops its walls-this gem of bridge construction is a monument to the engineering skills and artistry of Master Bridgebuilder John Weaver, who erected it for the budget cost of $2,300.
Hager's Mill Bridge (Over Antietam Creek) is a two-arch span built on the site of the first mill established in Washington County and is the only stone bridge within Hagerstown's city limits. Economy is believed to have dictated the design of this unusually narrow, shallow-arched structure. Built in 1738 and later extended with two concrete arches, it is today a garish example of the incompatibility of two eras, rather than the picturesque landmark it could have been.
Old Forge Bridge (On Old Forge Road, just west of Route 62, Little Antietam Road) is the last of Washington County's dated stone bridges. Old Forge Bridge narrowly missed destruction shortly after being erected in 1863. According to reports, when Lee crossed it on his retreat from Gettysburg, he decided not to destroy it only after ascertaining that the creek itself was fordable at that spot.
Cool Hollow Culvert over a branch of Little Beaver Creek: This little bridge is located over a stream that flows only after prolonged rainfall. Its high centered arch perforates parallel stone walls that terminate in modified columns. Only one of its stone faces is visible today, the other having been obscured with concrete when the structure was widened.
The Bridge at Price's Ford (Route 58, The Cearfoss Pike, West of Route 63, The Greencastle Pike) was built in 1822 by Lloyds of Philadelphia. This beautiful 5-arch bridge has been long out of use and is in a state or disrepair. Horse-drawn flatboats brought the stone with which it was built down the Conococheague from the quarry at the Solliday Farm. Confederate soldiers marched across it on July 5, 1863.
Leitersburg Bridge (On Leiters Mill Road, just west of Route 60, Leitersburg Road) was built by John Weaver in 1839. This two-archer was originally known as Strite's Mill Bridge because the Strite family's mill, powered by the Antietam, was a short distance northeast of the bridge.
Claggett's Mill-Race Bridge (South of Funkstown on Poffenberger Road) was built in 1841. This one-arch bridge echoes the style of arch and keystone used on the C&O Canal structures.
Claggett's Mill Bridge (South of Funkstown on Poffenberger Road) was built by John Weaver in 1840 for the cost of $2,800. It's graceful lines and beautiful stonework complemented the famous Claggett estate, "Valentia," whose centerpiece mansion still stands.
Rose's Mill Bridge (on Garis Shop Road, West of Alt Route 40), a beautiful three-arch bridge, was built by John Weaver in 1839 at the site of a large mill complex, known today by its original name, Rose's Mill.
Pry's Mill Bridge (Over Little Antietam, on Route 63 South toward Keedysville) was built in 1858. This handsome and sturdy structure, which continues to serve the community, is a two-archer built for the cost of $1,650.
Hitt Bridge (on Route 63 South toward Keedysville) is a graceful three-arch structure built in 1830 by Silas Harry for John Weaver. Samuel Hitt took advantage of the connections to market offered by the then-new bridge to construct a successful mill at this site.
Antietam Iron Works Bridge (On Harper's Ferry, South of Sharpsburg off Route 34) is the only four-arch bridge spanning Antietam Creek. It was built in 1862 by John Weaver.
The Antietam Aqueduct (just west of the Antietam Iron Works Bridge on Canal Road) was built in 1834 by largely immigrant Irish labor. One side of the bridge faces a battlefield where General Hill's Confederates initiated a series of flanking attacks that eased the pressure on General Lee's beleaguered Confederate Army, giving him the opportunity to withdraw his army across the Potomac.
Funkstown Turnpike Bridge (just north of Funkstown on Alt Route 40) was constructed by James Lloyd in 1823. Its appearance was modernized in 1931.
Funkstown Bridge No. 2 (on East Oak Ridge Road in Funkstown) was built in 1833 and is notable not only for its beauty, but for its unique design. The three arches grow progressively longer as they march up the hill to the west.
Felfoot Bridge (on Dog Street in Keedysville) was built by George Burgan in 1854. The large barn on the east side was a major logistics depot for General Braddock's forces.
Roxbury Mills (on Roxbury Mills, west of Alt Route 40) was constructed in 1824 by Silas Harry. The three-arch bridge has been restored and still serves our road system.