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Rutledge's Ford Covered Bridge

Harford MD-12-32x Deer Creek Unk Unk Unk 1839-40 Before 1885
Nearly every crossing over Deer Creek in the early to mid 1800s were made by means of a covered bridge. The Maryland Session Laws of 1838, Chapter 196 provided an act for building a bridge over Deer Creek "at or near Rutledge's Ford." The Act was passed on March 18, 1839.
The Harford Madisonian, on November 21, 1839, advertised for proposals for building a bridge at Rutledge's Ford. In part, the ad read: "Bridge Builders - The Commissioners of Harford County will receive sealed proposals for the building of two bridges across Deer Creek, one at Bailey's St. Clairs Ford and the other near Col. Edward Rutledge's Ford." The ad called for a shingled roof, framing made from white oak or pine timber and "the weather-boarding to be of good pine." The ad also stated that "it is expected that applicants will examine the sites and that the proposals will be accompanied with a plan for building the same in a workmanlike manner."
In 1839 the Harford County Commissioners reported a set-aside of $300 for the bridge and the following year and additional $266.66 was allocated.¹
The devastating flood of August 1, 1885 toppled nearly every bridge across Deer Creek. The Harford Democrat, on August 14, 1885, confirmed Rutledge's Bridge, first reported as lost, was not lost. Unfortunately, the article provides some confusing informaton about two bridges in this area. It states the name of the bridge as "Red or Rutledge." Red Bridge was a covered bridge about a mile upstream at Eden's Mill. The article said that many of the bridges lost in the flood were iron bridges and could be salvanged and placed back on their abutments, but that all of the wooden bridges that were washed away were a total loss. However, it did not say that "all" of the wooden bridges were washed away. More than likely, the bridge they were referring to was the Red Bridge at Eden Mill. Additionally, it is likely that the bridge at Rutledge's Ford on Federal Hill Road was already an iron bridge by 1885.
¹Jack L. Shagena, Jr., Henry C. Peden, Jr., Timber Bridges - Covered and Uncovered: Harford County's Rural Heritage. (Privately printed by the authors; Bel Air, MD, March, 2010), p. 90.

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