458 Meylert St Laporte PA 18626
You may be thinking that we’ve over done the subject of Sullivan County’s Covered Bridges but for those of you who take local pride or are simply covered bridge enthusiast; that can never be. The Burr Truss design, utilized by Sadler Rogers in the 1850’s plus era, has stood the test of time into today’s modern world. But with reflection concerning the 2011 flooding that caused damage to the Hillsgrove and Sonestown Covered Bridges and the gifting of Chuck Long’s renderings, now for sale, of all three covered bridges in Sullivan County – we’d like to take you back.
Back to a Jan. 14th, 1886 issue of the Sully: “Owing to the large amount of snow yet remaining in the woods and the long rains, the east branch of the Loyalsock was as high last week as it has been for the last thirty-five years. The damage in the immediate vicinity of Forksville is comparatively light. The wall across the old channel near the fair grounds was swept away, there being some frost in the ground the channel was but little widened, and considering the height of the stream the fair ground was but little injured. The foundation o R.B. Warburton’s barn was partly washed away and it was feared that it would capsize into the stream and endanger the county bridge, but fortunately this did not occur. A channel was washed around the headgates of Isaac Little’s mill, through which a heavy stream flowed, sweeping off the bridges and doing much injury to the road in the neighborhood of Samuel Bryan’s. Travel to Hillsgrove was almost suspended for a few days. It is estimated that it will cost Forks township between two and three hundred dollars to repair the roads and it is thought Hillsgrove township suffered still more. Fortunately but little actual damage was done to the farms on the creek. The Hillsgrove tannery company suffer considerable inconvenience and loss by injury to their road and the destruction o two bridges near World’s End. Frank Hannan had nearly $300 worth o lumber swept away from the building place near the splash dam.”
On an adjoining column: “Frank Hannan of Millview, was quite a loser by last week’s flood. He had drawn about fifty thousand feet of lumber from his mill to the bank of the Loyalsock, below the splash-dam, for rafting. The water overflowed the bank and undermined his pile of lumber, which caused it to pitch into the creek and we are informed that nearly all of it was carried away. Other persons, who had lumber along the banks of the creek lost more or less.”
Today, as then, we think of the loss of life and homes along the raging waters of flooding. But back then it was also a concern for their livelihood. Spring rains would have been a ways off for these lumbermen to be able to float their trees to market in Williamsport and January would have been not only a bit early but also uncontrollable to send logs down the streams. For us to reflect with the presence of these covered bridges, while simultaneously appreciating their contribution to the past is why the artist, Chuck Long, approved some of the monies gained by the sale of his prints to go towards memorial plaques for each of the three bridges.
Note: Sonestown will receive its plaque when renovations are complete.
Plaques recently installed at the Hillsgrove and Forksville bridges.
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The Sullivan County PA Historical Society and Museum is a registered 501(c)(3).