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#192 Wilson's Bridge built 1835
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#193 Sheeder Hall Bridge built 1850
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#191 Hallman Bridge built 1854
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#190 Kennedy Bridge built 1855
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#194 Sheeder Mill Bridge built 1887
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#195 Cooks Glen Bridge built 1897
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#196 Tysons Mill Bridge built 1905



The bridges spanning the churning waters of the French Creek have been an important part of the life of East Vincent residents for almost 200 years.  Their arrival was a most welcomed addition to the local landscape and provided a major relief from past struggles as they attempted their crossing to the other side.  Before their arrival people had to “ford” the waters as best they could over makeshift roadways stretching across the shallower sections of the Creek, always with the hope that the waters were running low. 

The first of these new bridges was built in 1835 along the heavily traveled Pughtown Road at a location known as Wilsons Corner.  As with most bridges of the era, this was a wooden structure with a covering on both the top and sides to protect the road surface from the elements.  So pleased were the residents with this convenient means to cross the Creek that three more bridges were added in the 1850s, all of them were covered just like the first.  The bridge numbers were a later addition, recording them from east to west.

Two of those historic bridges, Wilsons Corner and Hallman, have been lost to this tradition for they suffered from the ravages of time and have since been replaced by more modern structures.  The bridge commonly known today as Sheeder Hall, is a special treasure for it is now not only the oldest covered bridge in the township, but is also the oldest such structure in all of Chester County.  It has remained a vital part of the common heritage of East and West Vincent for over a century and a half and is still open to local traffic.      

The Kennedy Bridge was destroyed by fire in the early hours of Saturday, May 10, 1986 but that structure was restored with an exact replica, but this time using much stronger wood that was also fire resistant. 

The 1800s saw the growing presence of the new railroads that provided a swifter means of travel but they were decidedly heavier than any previous bridge had been called upon to support.  Those trains opened a new era of bridge building that was fashioned out of a sturdy metal equal to the task, iron.  Even where there was no railroad involved, people recognized the need for greater strength and more permanence in their bridges, therefore the new ones were increasingly made of this heavier metal.  The final three township bridges spanning the French Creek were all constructed with iron in the hope that they would meet the needs of the residents for many years to come.

Each of those historic structures was built by a local bridge company from Phoenixville that was headed by Captain John Denithorne of Civil War fame.  The Sheeder Mill Bridge was one of the first projects of Denithorne’s new company that went on to build over 50 iron bridges in Chester and Montgomery Counties.  Two of these historic structures, the Sheeder Mill and Tysons bridges remain standing as a testimony to the skill of the bridge builder, however a modern bridge at Cooks Glen has been erected to replace the one at that location that unfortunately fell into disrepair. 

East Vincent Township is very fortunate to have three of the original seven bridges crossing the French Creek, the Sheeder Hall, the Sheeder Mill and Tysons still standing and open to traffic, and a fourth one, the Kennedy Bridge, that has been totally rebuilt in its original form.  Each of these bridges is a treasure that has been carefully preserved for our modern times from a by-gone era.  The next time your travels take you across one of these well-known structures give some thought to the many generations of history that surround you on all sides.

By:  Dr. Robert Price
Historical Commission