Smith Bridge, Chadds Ford, PA
Digital Photos by S. Fox, Chadds Ford, PA, January, 2003
Smith Bridge was built in 1839 as a covered, one-lane wooden span over the Brandywine just south of the Pennsylvania line. It was destroyed in 1961 when it was set on fire the night before Halloween in 1961 and the Delaware Department of Transportation rebuilt the bridge without a cover.
There were at one time 26 covered bridges in Delaware. Only two "original" bridges remain standing. One is the Ashland Bridge at the Ashland Nature Center and Wooddale Bridge on Rolling Mill Road off Del. 48 in New Castle County.
The "new" Smith Bridge, which spans the Brandywine River, was "rebuilt" in the spirit of the original covered bridge at a cost of $1.2 million. The bridge was constructed with new steel beams, a wooden deck and roof and other aesthetic repairs. The piers and abutments were repaired and the curved approaches "smoothed" allowing a better view of traffic approaching from both sides.
The design of the bridge was provided by members of a group interested in preserving the historic look of the bridge. Their insistence on keeping Smith Bridge true to its history has resulted in what is most definitely one of very few one-lane covered bridge that will be built in the 21st century.
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