Scenic USA - Pennsylvania

McConnells Mill Covered Bridge

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McConnells Mill Covered Bridge - Portersville, Pennsylvania

Photos by Marcia Colelli
Marcia Colelli Photography

     McConnells Mill State Park, a National Natural Landmark, also features two man-made historic relics, the McConnells Mill and covered bridge. The mill and bridge are Mill and Bridge - McConnells Mill State Park, Portersville, PA located along the park's scenic Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, creating a very popular destination in Western Pennsylvania.
     The park area extends to both sides of the gorge and a handful of trails allow visitors to explore a variety of natural wonders as well as the thundering Slippery Rock Creek as it gushes through the gorge. Part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, Slippery Rock Gorge Trail is a challenging six mile hike which eventually descends into the deepest part of the gorge. The terrain gets steep and very rugged here as it drops into the gorge, ending at Eckert Bridge. This marvelous six hour hike works best with a group that has two cars, one used a shuttle back to Hells Hollow parking lot.
     If McConnells Mill State Park visitors are not into hiking, climbing, rappelling or whitewater kayaking, touring the mill and enjoying the old covered bridge are some of the tamer pastimes. One of Lawrence County's two remaining covered bridges, the McConnells Mill Bridge utilizes a Howe truss design. McConnells Mill Bridge - McConnells Mill State Park, Portersville, PA One of five bridges in the state to use this type of truss system, the 91 foot covered bridge was built in 1874. Still open to vehicular traffic, special-needs guests may cross the bridge to park and enjoy a visit to the 19th century gristmill. Interpretive tours of the historic mill are given by park staff or volunteer mill docents.
     About 10 years ago a violent storm and a downed tree caused serious damage to the bridge. Repairs costing over 100,000 dollars, the McConnells Mill Bridge has since been refurbished and restored to its original charm. Topped off with slate-colored shingles, this gem of Lawrence County's covered bridges looks better now than before the damage. The repair was said to be a labor of love, as replacement pieces were made by hand, one-by-one. Some of the original bridge timbers are over 140 years old, and are now preserved for future generations.

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