Bunker Hill Covered Bridge – Built 1895
With only two historic covered bridges existing in North Carolina (NC), I decided I couldn’t feature the Pisgah Covered Bridge last week without the other, the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge this week. This required another Sunday drive.
The Bunker Hill Covered Bridge is not only historic, built in 1895, but it’s designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark being the last wooden bridge in the United States with Haupt Truss construction. Also on the National Civil Engineering Landmarks list you’ll find in North Carolina the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Dorton Arena — so this bridge is in good company.
Haupt Truss Construction, an improved lattice truss, was patented by Gen. Hermin Haupt (1817-1905) in 1839. Haupt was Chief of Military Railroads for the Union Army during the Civil War and was one of the first to develop a rational method of truss analysis in America.
This Bunker Hill bridge, in my opinion, is more impressive then the Pisgah bridge — the span is much wider at a greater height. Massive oak timbers and wooden pins makes the bridge feel very safe and secure even today. Originally the bridge had a wooden shingle roof but during a major restoration in 1994 a tin roof was applied for longevity.
Now you might ask, “Why build covered bridges?” A few good reasons:
- Covered Wooden bridges prevented heavy snows/ice from covering and/or blocking passage
- Barn-like appearance soothed animal fears of bridge crossing (prevented horses from bolting.)
- Covered bridges protected travelers from the sun and weather.
- Covered bridges protected the exposed wooden superstructures from the elements. An uncovered wooden bridge may last 15-20 years: but with a roof and sides, one would last as long as 100 years.
Here ends my Covered Bridge history lesson…North Carolina has no more historic covered bridges, and you’re probably thankful for that!