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Covered Bridge at Berlin / Brunswick

Frederick & Loudoun (VA) MD-10-10x & VA-53-01x Potomac River Howe 9 1,568' 1857 1861
The covered bridge over the Potomac at the town of Berlin was built to replace the ferry system that crossed the river. In 1854, Virginia State appropriated $30,000 to The Loudoun and Berlin Bridge Company to build the bridge.¹
Covered Bridge at Berlin / Brunswick Covered Bridge Piers at Berlin / Brunswick
Drawing of covered bridge at Berlin/Brunswick as shown in Brunswick, 100 Years of Memories. The C&O Canal is in the foreground. This sketch was used as a banner for the Brunswick Herald & Loudoun County Advertiser, the town's first weekly newspaper. Illustration from Harper's Weekly showing the destruction of the Berlin/Brunswick Bridge.

The deck of the covered, wooden Howe truss, nine-span, 1,568-foot bridge of 1855-56 was at towpath level of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal was crossed by a pivot bridge. Construction of the bridge was likely completed sometime in late 1856 or 1857. Some old county records show the bridge was in operation by July 25, 1857. It was constructed of the best grade of white pine, resting on eight river piers and end abutments. After crossing the lock over the canal on the Maryland side, traffic continued on to Berlin's First Street (Virginia Avenue).²
During the summer of 1861, the Confederate Army was intent on destroying every bridge from the Point of Rocks, Maryland to Cumberland. On June 9, 1861, a Confederate cavalryman entered the bridge from the Virginia side. Upon reaching the Berlin side he spilled oil on the wooden bridge and set it on fire. The bridge completely burned down. The ferry system was again put in place to cross the river. In 1890, Berlin changed its name to Brunswick and was becoming a prosperous town. A group of Frederick residents realized the need to rebuild a bridge across the Potomac and formed the Berlin and Lovettsville Bridge Company. A steel structure bridge was completed in 1893, crossing the river on the piers from the old covered bridge. The bridge was extended by one span to cross over the canal.³

¹Brunswick History Commission, Brunswick, 100 Years of Memories (Brunswick, MD: 1990), p.68.

²Ibid., p.68, 70.

³Ibid., p.68.

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