Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Two Missouri Covered Bridges

We are now parked in St.Charles Missouri, and will stay here for a couple of months.  Consequently my posts will not be as frequent, but they will be appearing occasionally.  John and I are not ones to sit still for very long, and, like yesterday, are apt to head out suddenly on a whim to seek a new adventure.  Last week, on a trip to Farmington, we took a short detour to visit the Sandy Creek covered bridge.  Missouri has preserved 4 of the estimated 30 covered bridges which once spanned its rivers and creeks.
 This bridge was one of 6 bridges built in 1872 to allow passage from the Jefferson County seat of Hillsboro to St.Louis.  It was substantially damaged during a storm in 1886 and repaired using one-half of the original timbers.  It has since been restored several times over the years and at unknown dates was further modified with a corrugated metal roof instead of pine shingles, concrete piers, and one I beam.  As with many covered bridges, it eventually allowed only pedestrian traffic.
As I noted at the beginning of this post, we refused to let overcast skies and a brisk cool wind keep us inside yesterday and took a drive to find another covered bridge.  This time it was necessary to drive north to a location near Mark Twain State Park.  Pictured above is Union Covered Bridge, built in 1871 and served travelers in Monroe County for 99 years.  Notice that the siding is vertical, like most houses.  The Sandy Creek siding is horizontal, which gives it the barn-like appearance.  Supposedly the barn-like appearance made it easier for farm animals to cross the river without becoming nervous.  As you may notice in the picture of the Union Covered Bridge, it has sustained damage over the years from high water, fire and just plain neglect.  I certainly hope it gets repaired soon!  Even walking over the bridge was a bit scarey as the wood flooring has a few loose boards.  In the past overweight trucks damaged its structural timbers.
Our trip to the Union Covered Bridge took us close by Florida, Missouri, the birthplace of Mark Twain.  Over the years the home where he was born in 1835 has been preserved.  He died in 1910 and in 1924 his only surviving daughter, Clara, liked the idea of a park in her Dad's memory.  She was a contralto concert singer and gave local concerts to raise money to buy the land for what is now Mark Twain State Park.  In 1959 Twain's birth home was moved into the visitor's center of the park.  It is a two room structure which once housed Samuel and his parents plus his five siblings and a teenage slave for nine years.  Mark Twain once wrote, "Recently someone in Missouri sent me a picture of the house I was born in. Heretofore I have always stated that it was a palace, but I shall be more guarded now".

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