While Pennsylvania has plenty of covered bridges remaining, my home county of Westmoreland only has one. Bells Mill Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge in the county making it a true treasure. The photographs for this blog have been taken at different times of the year. This is not a good excuse since it is only located 10 minutes from me, but it will have to do.
The sides of the bridge are covered with barn red horizontal clapboard siding giving it your classic covered bridge appearance. The roof consists of cedar shakes and the deck has lengthwise planking in wide tire track areas that are laid over crosswise planking. There are no side windows other than the rather wide, typical, lengthwise eave openings. The entire structure rests on stone and mortar abutments that are reinforced with concrete both at the ground and road level. The bridge also has stone and mortar wing walls that are protected with heavy wooden guardrails. To protect the bridge from over sized vehicles, there are steel beams located before the entrance ways showing the height as 6’6″.
Built in 1850, Bells Mill Bridge is a burr arch truss design, 13 feet wide and 104 feet long. Even though the is located in a rural area connecting South Huntingdon and Sewickley Townships. The bridge still sees a fair amount of traffic. If you visit please stay aware. Many people use it as a shortcut to Interstate 70. The bridge was designed by Daniel McCain who was also the contractor. This bridge was placed on the National Register in 1979.
It’s fairly accessible all year long but parking in the winter may be difficult. During the summer when the trees are in full bloom they do provide plenty of shade, and in the fall additional color. The bridge itself is a rare gem and is very well taken care of. Being the only covered bridge in Westmoreland County makes it a must see if you enjoy covered bridges.