Cemetery has been abandoned and found again several times over the generations. Now, a local group fights to keep its memory alive.
ASHTABULA, Ohio - I drove across an Interstate highway bridge and hardly knew I was on it because there was nothing man-made over me and the speed in which I traveled was not conducive for enjoying the bridgework.
A while later, I drove into a covered bridge in Ashtabula County, Ohio. It was so beautiful, I parked once I reached the end of the bridge and reentered on foot to enjoy the workmanship and the lure of it. Ashtabula boasts 17 covered bridges. The county has the most of any county in the state. Its longest is 613 feet.
The Smolen Gulf bridge is the big brother spanning a wide valley below.
The smallest covered bridge is in Geneva. At just 18 feet, it is the newest, built just a few years ago, to cover a concrete culvert. As you drive through it, blink and you will miss it, unless you came as I did -- with an eye to linger and savor the bridges of Ashtabula County.
"They used to be all over the place, but most were torn down," said Eveleyn Schaeffer, bridge historian who resides in Ashtabula County. "We were very fortunate here that they wer not torn down," she added, pointing to the Harpersfield Bridge which was built in 1868.
It is an eye-catching bridge in that about a third of it is metal. When Harpersfield was built, it was enough to span the Grand River below. However, in 1913, the Grand flooded and expanded its wet footprint, washing away one of the banks. Engineers quickly moved to expand the bridge by adding a steel section. The two -- one wooden and covered and the other, steel and uncovered -- are like an old married couple, holding hands over the Grand.
"When you walk over that bridge what comes to my mind are the horse-and-buggy days," said Geegee Johnson who sat at a picnic table with her husband Ken as they enjoyed a hot afternoon at the Grand River.
Their 1936 Ford coupe was parked nearby.
"I like old things," commented Ken, pointing to both his vintage car and the vintage bridge.
Schaeffer said covered bridges began as a way of protecting the decks of bridges from the harsh weather. They have long been romantic places. Couples are often seen strolling under the covers as they hold hands as the rivers and streams babble below.
"I brought my girlfriend here," said Don Pawlowski of Seven Hills as he surveyed the Windsor Mills bridge built in 1867. "I wanted to show her some of the things I used to do," as he referred to his childhood growing up not far from the bridge.
Columbia Monroe, holding Don's hand, giggled about the reference to their holding of hands as we walked through the covered bridge, away from the eyes of anyone who might be watching. "Hey, I read the book, 'The Bridges of Madison County,'" she smiled.
The hit movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep was a very romantic saga of two lovers who found each other in a rural Iowa county while he was searching for a covered bridge to photograph for a magazine.
Schaffer said Ashtabula residents have long known of the romance associated with covered bridges, especially those tied into small roads that are not as heavily traveled as busier highways.
" Ashtabula County is known for the Covered Bridges Festival that happens in the Fall," said Marty Cephas, an Ashtabula resident who heads the Ashtabula Downtown Development's Multi-Cultural Festival which runs in July 28 and 29. The bridge festival runs October 13 and 14. "We have thousands of people who come from all over the United States," she added.
As I stood at the end of the Smolen Gulf Bridge, I thought of the old phrase: "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." So I did, walking the length of the bridge, taking in the timbers that criss-crossed its top and the lattice on its sides. I did not walk through all 17 bridges in Ashtabula County, but I plan do do so.
The next time I am there at a covered span, I will cross that bridge when.... Well, you know what I mean. Maybe I'll see you in the bridge.
My Ohio Stories
Hours before each Cleveland Browns football game, a group of tailgate party fans gathers with an entourage of wild vehicles which celebrate the team, its history, and themselves.
Twenty years after the filming of the "Shawshank Redemption" in Mansfield, tourists still visit some of the movie's locations.
Students offer their services for funerals for families who have no one to carry the caskets to final resting places.
After 50 years as a newsman who distinguished himself in television, radio, newspaper, and magazines, Dick Feagler retires.
Slyman's corned beef sandwiches have been hailed for their size. Part of the reason Lebanese immigrants made the sandwiches so big is to show their appreciation for the size of freedoms in America.
Since 1967, a museum dedicated to preserving vintage streetcars and trolleys works to bring them back to life.
The Schoepfle Garden, a part of the Lorain County Metro Parks, is not only a wonderful place where beauty abounds for 70 acres, but it is also one man's gift to the public.
Passenger car from 1943 train wreck is haunted. Workers who are preparing the old car for sale contend there ar voices and images which regularly appear in the car.
The Lincoln Highway, named in memory of President Abraham Lincoln, was built 1913 to 1915. It was the first coast-to-coast road linking New York City with San Francisco.