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Covered Bridge Park - History

More than 40 covered bridges once dotted the Wisconsin countryside. Today the sole survivor is the Cedarburg bridge, originally known as the "Red Bridge", located three miles north of the City of Cedarburg and 20 miles north of Milwaukee near the junction of Highways 60 and 143 on the Covered Bridge Road.

This bridge was built by the Town of Cedarburg on petition of neighboring farmers to replace periodically washed out bridges. Built in 1876, the original span measured 120' long and 12' wide. The source of building materials was pine logs, cut and milled near Baraboo, Wisconsin.  The squared timber and planks were then hauled to the proposed site on Cedar Creek where all pieces were fitted and set in place.  The lattice truss construction consisted of 3 x 10 inch planks secured by 2 inch hardwood pins, eliminating the use of nails or bolts, and floored by 3 inch planking.  It is now very rare. 

In 1927, a center abutment was placed to carry the heavier traffic of automobiles and trucks.  There were many prominent farmers living in the vicinity of this covered bridge, whose descendants are still living in this area. The names of some of these early settlers were the Kaehlers, Krohns, Ernsts, Hickeys, Corrigans, Mintzlaffs, Schellenbergs and Pollows. Many and varied reasons are given why such bridges were covered. Some say it was to shelter travelers in storms and others hint of refuge from the Indians. There are two more reasonable conclusions, to preserve the truss structure and the fact that the teams of oxen used by the area farmers had a fear of crossing the water on an open bridge and frequently balked. One old legend states that the covered bridge leveled off the farmers' hayloads as they passed through.

After 85 years of continuous service, the old landmark began a life of semi-retirement.  A modern span was built beside the old bridge, which is not used exclusively for pedestrian traffic.  In 1940, the Ozaukee County Board voted to preserve this structure as an historic monument.  On October 1, 1955, the Port Washington Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, added to the bridge its one modern embellishment, a plaque which reads:

This marker was approved by the State Historical Society. However, at that time, there was no County Historical Society. The present Ozaukee County Historical Society, established in 1960, dedicated a State Historical Society Official Marker on May 23, 1965.

Recreational features currently available at Covered Bridge Park include:

  River Canoe Access Area

  Fishing

  Bird watching

  Picnicking and grilling

  Off road parking areas

Picnic tables, grills, drinking water and portable toilets are available at the park.  Currently many people are using this park for nature walks, fishing and photo shoots.  Park reservations must be made for any group events.  Covered Bridge Park is not far from Pleasant Valley Nature Park, making its location ideal for all kinds of activity.  For questions regarding the park contact the Planning & Parks Department.

Reservations can be made for almost every area in the park by calling 262-284-8257.

 

1700 Cedar Creek Road, Cedarburg, Wisconsin 53012
PH: 262-284-8257
or FAX: 262-238-8269

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Ozaukee County Planning & Parks Department