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Bridges along the Pughtown-Kimberton Road

The Pughtown-Kimberton Road carrying traffic across the southern corridor of our township appears to have always been a busy passageway.  As far back as the early 1800’s residents were actively seeking to ease their travel along this roadway by requesting a bridge to be built across the French Creek.  The county fathers heard that plea and in 1835 a beautiful new wooded structure, covered on both the top and sides for protection from the elements, was built by Benjamin Hartman & Company for $4,400.  That was the first of seven bridges that would eventually be raised across that French Creek by the townships.

The builders were more concerned with the difficult task of spanning the Creek than they were with the path of the roadway.  As a result, residents discovered that there was “a dangerous turn at each end of the bridge.”  The structure soon became known as the Wilson’s Corner Bridge, referring to a hamlet that grew up on the south side of the Creek.  Thomas and later James Wilson were owners of a store in that location and also operated a large farm of more than 100 acres on the East Vincent side.  

Once on the West Vincent side, the road continued eastward toward the settlement at Kimberton, but along the way there was a strong desire that another bridge needed to be constructed at the Hoffecker Road crossing.  A good passageway there would open the way to one of the Township’s most popular attractions, “the Seven Stars Hotel.”  The new bridge was opened for traffic in 1854.  Like many others of this era, this was a covered bridge, built exactly like the Kennedy that was constructed upstream two years later.  This bridge, with its familiar supporting Burr arch trusses, was constructed by Ferdinand Wood at the cost of $1,828.  It was named in honor of the Hallman family who were property owners in the area and who operated a well-known grist and saw mill on the north side of the bridge and creek.  At a later time, it became known as Lockhart’s Bridge after David Lockhart who owned a 142-acre farm on the south side.

Unfortunately, neither of those original structures survived the effects of time.  A fire, the common enemy of all things wooden, brought an end to the Hallman/Lockhart Bridge on August 18, 1927, after 73 years of faithful service.  The replacement was made of iron.  Because it was placed on exactly the same site, the builder was able to retain the beautiful stone walls that graced the approaches to its predecessor.  These walls are on all four sides, but the north one on the East Vincent side is especially notable because of its long curved presence.

After a full century of service, Wilson’s Corner could no longer be saved and was replaced with a modern iron open girder bridge in 1936.  That “dangerous turn” on the East Vincent side was eliminated by building the bridge on an angle to the Creek, thereby allowing the travelers a straight path from the roadway onto the bridge.  The old stone abutments, filled with memories of the original bridge, may still be seen from the West Vincent side, just a bit to the left of the present modern structure.

This summer spend a little time visiting the wonderful treasures that are right here in our midst all the time, just awaiting your attention.

Dr. Robert W. Price

East Vincent Historical Commission