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.