Photography is popular among visitors to national parks, and many parks become known by their photographic icons. In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Everett Covered Bridge is one of the often-photographed destinations.
Whether you want to photograph it yourself or just enjoy its beauty and history, a visit to this 100-foot-long bridge is worth your time.
Everett Covered Bridge crosses Furnace Run, one of the larger tributaries of the Cuyahoga River. Made of wood, the bridge has a red exterior and white interior. Set against the creek, woodlands, and nearby farm fields, the bridge is visually striking all times of year, but its colors particularly stand out in winter.
The Everett structure is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. But in the 19th century, it was one of over 2,000 in Ohio, the state that led the nation in covered bridge construction.
Local histories emphasize the importance of the Ohio & Erie Canal to early transportation. With the canal, farmers could ship products to Cleveland and beyond. But to get to the canal and other local destinations, people needed functional roads. Creek crossings posed one of the difficulties for the road system.
The story of the origins of Everett Covered Bridge illustrates this treacherous aspect of early roads. Whether the incident actually led to the bridge construction is uncertain.
On a winter night in 1877, local farmers John Gilson and his wife had to cross the run when returning home from visiting friends. A winter storm had caused the waters to rise and ice to obstruct the ford they would have used.
In passing around the ford, Mrs. Gilson was thrown into the stream. Mr. Gilson lost his footing, and his horse dragged him into deeper water. Mrs. Gilson was rescued, but Mr. Gilson's body was not recovered until four days later.
The story continues that people built the bridge in response to this tragedy. In truth, the construction date is unknown and could have predated the drownings. However, clues suggest that it was built close to the time of the incident.
Covered bridges are truss bridges with support coming from a framework of beams. Builders added covers to protect the truss from weather damage. Everett Covered Bridge has a truss pattern patented by Robert W. Smith of Tipp City, Ohio, in 1867.
Thus 1867 is the earliest possible date for the bridge. The popularity of covered bridges waned in the 1880s, making it unlikely that our bridge was built much after the 1870s.
Everett Covered Bridge was repaired at least twice after major damage, first caused by the 1913 flood and then by a truck in 1970. Then in 1975, rushing water from a spring storm lifted the bridge from its abutments and deposited the wreckage into the steam bed below.
Local citizens, rallied by park friends group -- then called Cuyahoga Valley Association, now called the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park -- began raising funds to rebuild the bridge. School children, local citizens, private organization, and governmental agencies joined hands to secure funds for the historically accurate reconstruction, completed by the National Park Service in 1986.
Tom Jones is a local photographer who has been photographing the bridge for decades. He notes that time of day is a key factor for successful images due to variation in light.
The light is best for photography looking upstream at the bridge in the morning and downstream in the afternoon and evening. Light quality is better either early or late in the day. For morning photography, try between sunrise and 10 a.m.; for afternoon photography, try after 4 p.m.
Jones makes a few suggestions for spots to stand for photographs. One is a little further downstream in the creek bed where you can include small cascades in the foreground. If you wish to avoid the creek bed, he recommends photographing the bridge from the nearby Founders Wayside.
Another fun photograph is the kissing shot. You can shoot through the bridge to a couple embracing just beyond the bridge. If you try it, make sure you set your exposure for the outside light where the couple is standing, not the darker interior of the bridge.
Everett Covered Bridge is located on 2370 Everett Road, 1/2 mile west of Riverview Road in Peninsula. For more information, call 330-657-2752 or visit online at www.nps.gov/cuva.