Priestford or Priest Ford Covered Bridge
WORLD GUIDE #
||1885 or earlier
There were likely many bridges that crossed Deer Creek at Priestford, some of them possibly covered, as far back as 1822 when the Maryland General Assembly authorized the building of a bridge at this location. The Session Laws of 1821, Chapter 118, passed on February 2, 1822 provided $600 for building the bridge, a substantial amount at that time which could possibly have been for a covered bridge. The area was more commonly known in the middle 1800s as "Priest Ford Bridge."
The first confirmation of a covered bridge at Priestford comes from a June 5, 1863 article in the National American titled "Bridge Notice:"
The County Commissioners for Harford County will meet at their office in Bel-Air on Tuesday, June 16th, next to receive proposals for building a Bridge across Deer Creek at Priestford, on the road leading from Churchville to Trappe of the following plans and specifications. viz:
An Arch bridge, 96 feet span; floor 15 feet wide to clear of Arch timbers; 14 feet 6 inches high from floor to top of plate. Abutment walls to be 10 feet above ordinary low water; 5 feet wide at bottom and 4 at top; wing walls to be of sufficient length to make an easy grade on the bridge; to be 4 feet thick at bottom and 2 at top; to be 2-1/2 feet above the level of the road, and well covered. Foundation to be on solid bottom, walls above ground and to be laid in good bone and sand mortar. Cords 4-1/2 X 13 inches; Arches 4-1/2 x 14 inches; post 9 x 9 inches; upper brace 8 X 9 inches; plates 6 X 9 inches; bottom braces 5 X 5 inches; top braces 4 X 4 inches; rafters 2 X 5 inches; crossties 6 X 6 inches; roofed with slate; weather boarded with 1 inch [boards]; wall sills of White Oak 8 X 12 inches. All other timber of good White pine. Roof to extend 6 feet over each end. Bridge to be well bolted and secured at all necessary points. By order of the Board. John T. Spicer, Clerk.
On July 31, 1863 the National American reported a disbursement to Joseph Gorrell in the sum of $2,200 "for bridge at Priestford."
The Baltimore Sun reported on August 5, 1885 that the flood in Harford County on August 3rd destroyed many bridges along Deer Creek. One of them was at Priestford. The article also said many of the bridges lost were iron bridges. The bridge at Priestford may have been an iron bridge replacing the covered bridge earlier or it may, in fact, have been the covered bridge that was built in 1863.
Thanks to Jack Shagena and Henry Paden, co-authors of a book about Harford County's bridges titled Timber Bridges, Covered and Uncovered, for providing us with information about Priestford Bridge.