EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published on Richland Source in 2015.
In the horse-drawn era a covered bridge was a welcome refuge when the storm hit. Certainly cattle knew that and, given the opportunity they clustered underneath the bridge or even inside... because it looked like a barn. The threat of hidden animals lurking in the bridge had a very effective impact on moderating the speed limit.
In wintertime the roof kept snow and ice from building up on the road surface, and the plank walls served an important purpose as well: skittish horses who otherwise balked at the sight of walking above a chasm with churning waters below found that those wooden walls were as familiar and comforting as a cozy barn.
In the 1800s covered bridges were a common setting of country life until the 20th century when automobiles started taking over the roads. Co-incidentally, and with a sort of poetic twist of weather, most of the bridges were erased off the landscape in the great flood of 1913, and had to be replaced with iron trestle bridges that were wider to accommodate the new automotive traffic.