"Fred Moll was a young man from Reading when he first came to
Lancaster County for a road rally in the 1960s.
The nighttime event took a course through three covered bridges, he
said, and although he couldn't see them very well in the darkness,
""it sounded so cool to go through them, I wanted to see them
during the day.""
So Moll soon headed back to Lancaster to get a gander at those
bridges -- and that started a lifelong interest in their history
Now, a half-century later, Arcadia Publishing is releasing Moll's
latest book, ""Pennsylvania's Covered Bridges,"" which celebrates
the stylish feats of engineering with more than 200 vintage
""The majority of the bridges that are in the book are no longer
standing,"" Moll said.
The book, which is scheduled for release Monday, is part of
Arcadia's ""Images of America"" series. It is dominated by
black-and-white photos, although Moll also has provided text
detailing the history of many of the bridges.
""I wanted to learn more about the people that built them and how
they were built,"" he said.
""They measured these pieces of wood with rather crude instruments.
They didn't have digital equipment; they didn't have electric saws
or cranes. Everything was done by hand. That's fascinating to
The first covered bridge was built in Pennsylvania in 1805. In
their heyday, more than 1,500 of them crossed streams and rivers in
Although just over 200 remain today, Pennsylvania still has the
nation's highest number of covered spans.
But Moll said he's worried that the remaining number will
""It really hadn't hit me until we hit this recession,"" he said.
""They remained fairly constant for the last 50 years. But now,
funding for taking care of the bridges has been cut. It worries me
what the future holds in store.""
In Berks County and throughout much of the state, ""they're not
being taken care of very well any more,"" Moll said.
""In Lancaster, the people in power realize what an attraction they
are, and they keep their bridges in pretty good shape. But
throughout the rest of the state, I worry that we're going to lose
Moll is the historian for the Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society
and is a member of the Historical Society of Berks County and the
National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges. He has
written five books on bridges, and many of the photos included in
this latest volume are from his private collection.
""There are a lot of different types of bridges around. Iron,
concrete, what have you,"" he said. ""Covered bridges have always
sparked people's interest because you can be surrounded by them.
It's like entering a historic building, a whole structure.
""You're engulfed in the bridge itself."""
Lancaster New Era, Tom Knapp