Does your mind ever wander to what seems to be totally irrelevant subjects? Mine does. A lot. I used to ask my dad questions about all kinds of off-the-wall subjects. Being the good dad that he was, he’d answer, or if he didn’t KNOW the answer, he’d make up crap! I think that was just to shut me up, but I thought he was the smartest man on the planet. Grin Now Drollery doesn’t play the question game the same way. If he doesn’t know the answer he SAYS, “Damned if I know!” and ignores me!
So! We were eating breakfast this morning and a question presented itself. It was about this cup that Drollery had picked up as a souvenir in Walnut Creek, Ohio the last time we visited Amish country on a trip back to my home.
I was just pondering the picture when the thought trickled through my mind, why did people build covered bridges? And, of course, I asked the nearest font of knowledge. “Damned if I know?” Drollery said, his mind already long gone ahead to a meeting he had at 9:00. I grew hopeful as he tossed out, “Maybe to stay dry?” “Then why not build EVERY bridge that way,” I asked, not willing to let it go. “Damned if I know…”
After he left I got on Google and asked my question. There’s not much Google doesn’t know. But unlike my dad, it doesn’t make up crap! (Or does it???) Here’s what I found:
A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge with a roof and siding which, in most covered bridges, create an almost complete enclosure. The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. Uncovered wooden bridges have a lifespan of only 10 to 15 years because of the effects of rain and sun. …In the mid-1800s, the development of cheaper wrought iron and cast iron led to metal rather than timber trusses, except in those areas of plentiful large timber. (Wikipedia)
It also mentioned that they were helpful in keeping horses from shying away from the water. The ones I’ve seen up close and personal sometimes have a walkway on either side under the roof and windows from which you can throw a fishin’ line in the water. There are still a few of them dotting the countryside in north-central Ohio in Amish country.
So now I have my answer to a seemingly insignificant question. But for bridge builders of bygone eras, why to cover a bridge was a very important consideration indeed. I hope someday you get a chance to see one, to walk across it and feel the give in the floor boards and hear the hollow sound inside. They are, quite simply, charming as well as practical.