With its nineteen covered bridges, it comes as no surprise that Ashtabula County, Ohio has both the longest covered bridge in the country as well as the shortest.
Welcome to the West Liberty Covered Bridge in Geneva, Ohio. It was opened in 2011, a logical solution to a simple problem – a culvert in town required replacing and they decided to use a covered bridge style to add to their booming tourism industry.
It was designed by former Ashtabula County Engineer John Smolen who also co- designed the Smolen-Gulf Bridge which is the nation’s longest covered bridge. That’s quite a resume for Mr Smolen!
I will admit that I nearly choked on my bubble gum when I read the $400,000 price tag. According to the local paper, the cost of this bridge was comparable to a more traditional bridge but its still shocking what it costs to build roads and bridges.
There’s a parking lot right next to the bridge so it’s easy to pull over for pictures.
The longest covered bridge in the United States is just outside Ashtabula, Ohio. At 613 feet long and standing 93 feet above the Ashtabula River, the Smulen – Gulf Covered Bridge is impressive. It’s situated along a main artery called State Road and is one of the busiest covered bridges I’ve ever seen in terms of traffic flow.
It is not an old bridge. Dedicated in 2008, it was designed by former County Engineer John Smolen and current County Engineer Timothy Martin. Its completion unseated the Cornish- Windsor Covered Bridge which previously held the title of longest covered bridge in the U.S.
It carries two lanes of legal weight traffic with a pedestrian walkway on either side. While it is a rustic wooden covered bridge, it rests atop modern concrete abutments and three concrete piers.
It sounds like this bridge was years in the making and a real labor of love that the community embraced. It replaced an old iron bridge that had long ago replaced another covered bridge. The price tag was a hefty $7.78 million dollars.
There’s a visitor pavilion overlooking the bridge and a parking lot down below with a paved bike path and access to another covered bridge. I walked the path and then up an old access road to the highway to circle back across the pedestrian bridge and back to the car. It was delightful.
Ashtabula County has nineteen covered bridges including seventeen that are open to car traffic. This is the most massive and impressive that I saw during my whirlwind tour. I would love to see it surrounded by fall foliage someday.