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Gilpin's Ford or Newark Road Covered Bridge

Cecil MD-07-24x Big Elk Creek Unk 1 85' 1853 after 1884
Citizens of the area about a half mile north of Elkton struggled for thirteen years to get a bridge built across the Big Elk Creek on the road from Elkton to Newark, Delaware, known today as Newark Avenue. The first attempt is evidenced through the Maryland Session Laws of 1839, Chapter 280, passed on March 18, 1840, calling for building a bridge "over Big Elk creek, near Gilpin's Mill, on the road leading from Elkton to Newark." Maryland Session Laws of 1844, Chapter 182 was an "Act authorizing and empowering the Commissioners of Cecil County to Levy a sum of Money for Building a Bridge over Big Elk Creek, at Gilpin's Ford, in said County." The Act was passed on February 27, 1845. The third attempt was in 1845, Chapter 106, passed January 21, 1846, and it included the same wording as the prior act of 1844.
An act of the Session Laws of 1847, Chapter 143 was the first act to call out a specific sum of money for building the bridge, "provided, that the said commissioners shall not levy in any one year for the building of said bridge a sum of money exceeding seven hundred and fifty dollars." Passed on February 29, 1848, the bridge still was not built. Finally, in 1849, Chapter 23 of the Session Laws required the commissioners "to advertise for proposals to build the aforesaid bridge at Gilpin's ford." The Act referred to the Law of 1847.
Even with a history of repeated approvals by the Commissioners of Cecil County through the Maryland Session Laws, the bridge was not built until 1853. In the Cecil Democrat an article appeared on December 15, 1852 as a notice to "Builders and Contractors" requesting bids for building Gilpin's Ford Bridge:


The Commissioners of Cecil county by virtue of the authority in them vested by the Act of Assembly of December, Session 1846 [1845], Chapter 106, authorizing the erection of a Bridge over Big Elk Creek, at or near Gilpin's Ford, one half mile north of Elkton, do hereby give notice, that proposals for building said bridge will be received from this date up to January 5th, 1853, when the Commissioners will meet to examine and decide upon the bids.
The kind of Bridge proposed, is to be of single span of eighty feet or thereabout, single width and well roofed, the material to be of the best quality, the work to be entered upon and completed on or before the first day of September, 1853.
Builders are requested to furnish plans with estimates to each, and for further particulars as to specifications, terms of payment, etc., information can be had at the office of the Commissioners.
On January 10, 1853, the Baltimore Sun reported the contract for the bridge "was awarded on Thursday to Mr. Philip Quigley, of Wilmington, for the sum of $2,075; eighty-five feet span."
The flood of June 1884 destroyed many wood and iron bridges in Cecil County. An article in the Baltimore Sun about the flood, on June 27, 1884, provides evidence of a covered bridge over the Big Elk Creek a little northeast of Elkton: "The large covered bridge, half a mile from Elkton on the Newark road is safe, but the abutments are badly undermined." Similar information about the damage to Gilpin's Ford Bridge caused by the flood appeared in the Cecil Democrat on June 28th, The Cecil Whig on June 28th and July 5th and the Appeal on July 2nd.
The June flood destroyed covered bridges at Baldwin's Mills and at Rock Church.

UPDATED: 6/28/2010, for much more information about the building of the bridge and additional names for the bridge.

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