The Last Bridge

The last original covered bridge in Wisconsin still stands astride a small river in Cedarburg.

Built in 1876 because farmers asked the county to build a more permanent bridge to replace the shoddy ones subject to collapse or getting washed away during spring floods, this structure helped get farmers and their grain to market for years.

Maybe more surprising is the Ozaukee County board decided in 1940 to care and maintain the bridge.  A park on either side of the stream offers wonderful views and peaceful spots to picnic.

Just four years ago, we moved to Wisconsin after seven years in the Hoosier state.  Indiana is home to more than 90 covered bridges.  Over five years, I tracked them down with the help of maps and photographed each one.

My searching online for these beautiful old buildings in Wisconsin turned up this one in Cedarburg.  It took nearly four years to get here.

Just a few miles west of Cedarburg on a two lane country road it stands in place.  The replacement bridge and road rumbles past a few feet to its south.

It always made me sad to see old bridges in Indiana which were moved from their perch and placed on display on blocks or in a park.  That's better than losing them, but a covered bridge needs to stand across water.  The bridge needs to hear and feel the rumbling waves.

Looking inside the Cedarburg bridge elicits the sounds of horse hooves and wheels on creaking lumber.  The bridge isn't restored with too bright red paint, it shows it's age - it's experience in moving the goods which built this land.

You may have heard or thought covered bridges were made to get horses to cross over rivers; while it may have some threads of truth; the prime reason was to keep the bridge deck dry.

There are a few other covered bridges around the state.  One, near Brodhead crosses the Sugar River as part of the state bike trail.  It's a miniaturized version of a covered bridge and built within the past 50 years, So they don't count in my book.

Architects through time gave us working and living pieces of art with a function.

To me, covered bridges are similar.

The bridge is noble in its simplicity.

Form is function.

A modern bridge is in the family, but it's not quite the same.

A toast, to the Last Covered Bridge.