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Conowingo Covered Bridge #1

Cecil & Harford MD-07-14 #1x & MD-12-08 #1x Susquehanna River Unk 10 1744' 1820 1846
In the 1820s Maryland had two covered bridges spanning the great Susquehanna River. Theodore Burr built his enormous 18 span, 4,170 foot bridge from Rock Run in Harford County to Port Deposit in Cecil County. Seven miles upstream Lewis Wernwag built his Conowingo Bridge. His ten span structure included seven sections totaling 1,334 feet, a 110 foot causeway on the Cecil County side, and another three sections totaling 410 feet.
Wernwag moved to the Conowingo area in 1819 where he built a double sawmill to build the timbers for his bridge. A letter to the editor of the Baltimore American on October 2, 1820, reported the "raising of the last arch of Conowingo Bridge." It continued, "the last arch was completed on the 12th instant (September 12, 1820), contrary to the expectation of many who knew the great risque and almost insurmountable difficulties that Lewis Wernwag, the contractor, had to contend with - there being a depth of upwards of 40 feet of water, passing a current covered with whirlpools, that presents difficulties almost insurmountable."¹
All but two of the ten spans were lost to a flood in March of 1846. The Baltimore American reported on March 17th, 11AM: "The Conowingo Bridge is all but gone but two spans in the middle. It was carried off in pieces, part on Sunday and the balance on Sunday night."²
The two spans of the Conowingo Bridge remained in place until 1859 when the second crossing at Conowingo was constructed.

UPDATED: 12/11/2008, text revised.

¹ Harford Historical Bulletin, Six Susquehanna Bridge Crossings: Thirteen Bridges (The Historical Society of Harford County, Inc.: Number 92, Spring 2002), p. 5.

² Ibid., p.6.

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