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Porters Covered Bridge

Cecil MD-07-13x Octoraro Creek Unk 1 approx 121' c1858 1884
The village of Richardsmere, formerly known as Porters Bridge, is located in the north western section of Cecil County. The old wooden covered bridge takes it name from the original name of the town. Porters Covered Bridge crossed Octoraro Creek, near Stephen Porter's Mill on the old US Route 1.
Porter's Bridge was built around 1858 when about a half dozen structures were erected at the area of Porter's Mill (later Magraw's Mill). The covered bridge provided access between the mill and residences on the west side of Octoraro Creek with a blacksmith shop, saw mill and houses on the east side.
Porters Bridge Illustration
"Mill & Farm Property of H.S. Magraw Esq. Dist. No. 8 Cecil Co. Maryland." Section of illustration from An Illustrated Atlas of Cecil County, published by Lake, Griffing & Stevenson, 1877.

Porter's Bridge was one of many bridge lost in the Cecil County flood of June 26, 1884. The Cecil Whig reported in an article on June 28th: "On the Octoraro every bridge that spanned that stream was washed away, and great damage was done to property bordering upon it." The Cecil Democrat, on July 5th detailed all of the bridges lost in the flood. In the sixth district it reported: "Porter's Bridge (110 feet) and abutments entirely gone." Accounts of the loss of the bridge were confusing, for the Cecil Democrat and the Appeal reported that Porter's Bridge was saved. Since a wrought iron bridge replaced this bridge in 1885 (see below), it is safe to conclude that Porter's Bridge was either lost in the flood or damaged beyond repair.
In 1885 the covered bridge was replaced by a bridge built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company under the supervision of Charles H. Latrobe, son of Benjamin H. Latrobe, chief engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The new bridge stretched 121 feet across Octoraro Creek using the same abutments as the removed covered bridge. In 1933 the State Road Commission bypassed the route to the bridge site with a new section of US Route 1. The wrought iron bridge with a wooden deck has since been removed but the abutments remain.¹

UPDATED: 06/28/2010, for information about the loss of the bridge in the 1884 flood. Date of loss changed from 1885 to 1884.

¹ Website, Historical Society of Cecil County, http://cchistory.org/porter~1.htm, Porters Bridge in Richardsmere, Rita M. Suffness.

Remaining east abutment at Porters, April 2009 Remaining west abutment at Porters, April 2009
View of still remaining east abutment from the old wooden covered bridge and the wrought iron bridge. Photo taken April 2009. View of still remaining west abutment from the old wooden covered bridge and the wrought iron bridge. Photo taken April 2009.

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