Covered Bridge Park
Alert: Historic Covered Bridge is closed to all pedestrian use
The Historic Covered Bridge has been immediately closed to all pedestrian traffic following the discovery of a large crack on one of the bridge’s trusses. Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bridge Inspectors have determined that no one should use the bridge at this time. The pedestrian bridge will be blocked by barrels and/or caution tape, and should not be crossed until those items have been removed. Ozaukee County will be reviewing the situation to determine our options going forward. Please feel free to contact Ozaukee County Highway Commissioner Jon Edgren with any comments or questions at 262-238-8335.
About the Park
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 3 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.
Reason for Cover
Many reasons are given why such bridges were covered. Some say it was to shelter travelers in storms. There are 2 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.
Amenities & Recreational Features
Recreational features currently available at Covered Bridge Park include:
- Bird Watching
- Off Road Parking Areas
- Picnicking and Grilling
- River Canoe Access Area
- Pavilion Building
The Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department recently completed the construction a new open-air shelter at Covered Bridge Park. Please see the link below for detailed information on the project.
The Department and its consultant completed the design, engineering, and public bidding for a new multi-purpose building at Covered Bridge Park, which includes bathrooms, a picnic shelter, and a storage area for equipment and supplies. Construction of the building, by a private contractor, was recently completed. The new building is located at the southwest corner of the Park near Covered Bridge Road and Cedar Creek Road. The building design and exterior colors have been selected to complement the architecture and colors of the historic Covered Bridge. Covered Bridge Park is a highly visited site in the Ozaukee Park system and routinely is the location for large groups and events, including weddings. This project will improve Park user experience and alleviate the need for staff to bring in equipment and supplies for Parks maintenance from offsite.
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 feet long and 12 feet 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-inch-by-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.
Retirement & Historical Landmark
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 now used exclusively for pedestrian traffic.
In 1940, the Ozaukee County Board voted to preserve this structure as a 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."