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Principio Creek or Principio Furnace Covered Bridges

Cecil MD-07-17 #1x Principio Creek Unk 1 80' c1841 1867
Cecil MD-07-17 #2x Principio Creek Howe 1 80' 1867 Unk
In the 1800s Whitaker Furnace of Cecil County purchased property near Perryville and established Principio Iron Works. In 1840, Maryland Session Laws, Chapter 201, authorized the "rebuilding of a bridge over Principio Creek, on the post road leading from Perryville to Elkton." The amount of money awarded to build the bridge was $900, quite a large sum in that era for building a bridge, leading to belief the bridge was a substantial and permanent covered one. The bill was passed on March 5, 1841. Evidence that this bridge over Principio Creek was covered comes from a lithograph produced by Wm. H. Rease in the late 1850s depicting the ironworks factory, the Price-Whitaker Mansion and the covered bridge. The first known bridge at this location was built by Zenas Wells in 1807, very unlikely a covered one. The bridge was probably repaired or replaced a few times before the construction of the 1841 bridge.
The Cecil County flood of 1867 took down many bridges. In an article in the Baltimore Sun on August 24, 1867 reported: "On Principio Creek, the damage is quite serious, the county bridge, near Whitaker's Furnace, being washed away, and Mr. Whitaker's dams broken, with other injuries sustained, damaging him to the amount of $12,000."
The Cecil County Commissioners Minutes of August 28, 1867 awarded a contract to Jos. G. Johnson to "rebuild Principio Furnace Bridge." The new covered bridge was an 80 foot structure on the Old Post Road (Route 7) and Johnson was paid $3,000 to build the bridge. On October 16, 1867 Johnson drafted a letter to the Cecil County Commissioners about fulfilling his obligation to build Principio Furnace Bridge. In his letter he mentioned the bridge will be built "of the Howe Truss plan, ten feet from the top of the top chord to the bottom of the bottom chord, fourteen feet from out to out."
Wm. H. Rease Lithograph of Principio Furnace
Section of Wm. H, Reese Lithograph of Principio Furnace shows the Ironworks Factory, the Price-Whitaker Mansion center left just to the right of the smoke stacks and the covered bridge crossing Principio Creek at the upper right.
The Cecil County Historical Society Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, aptly describes what remains today of Principio Iron Works:
Beyond the Office (building for Principio Iron Works) is the remains of a round charcoal kiln, the remains of a waste house, a two-story house that housed machinery, and traces of foundations of an 1837 blast furnace.
Foundations of Principio Blast Furnace Office Principio Iron Works
Foundations remains of Principio Blast Furnace. Offices of Principio Iron Works.
Historical Marker for The Principio Company Remains of Principio Charcoal Kiln
Historical Marker for The Principio Company. Remains of Charcoal Kiln.

All photos of remains of Principio Iron Works taken February 2009

UPDATE 07/28/2010: Evidence that first bridge was covered from Rease lithograph. MD-07-17x becomes MD-07-17 #2x with addition of first bridge.

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