COVERED BRIDGES of Preble County
Preble County is very fortunate to have eight covered bridges still standing and the oldest covered bridge in Ohio. Throughout the 19th Century, from 1829 until 1896, 29 covered bridges were built in Preble County, Ohio. Some were built for turnpikes, one for the railroad, one by a private enterprise, and some to replace original bridges destroyed by a devastating storm in May, 1886.
The Robert’s Bridge was built in 1829 and is Ohio's oldest covered bridge. It is one of six double barreled or dual wagon-way bridges still remaining in the United States. The Roberts Bridge is the oldest of these and is the second oldest covered bridge of any type in the nation.
Built just over a quarter century after settlement began in the area, the Roberts Bridge is among the earliest non-domestic structures standing in Preble County.
Having obtained a contract from the U.S. government, Orlistus Roberts began building a covered bridge about two and one-half miles south of the village of Eaton. With the help of his apprentice, James Campbell, Roberts built the bridge of local poplar, beech and oak resting it on abutments of limestone quarried from nearby Rocky Run. All bolts, nuts and nails were hand forged by the builders. Unfortunately, Roberts died before completion of the bridge that bears his name and it was finished by James Campbell.
For nearly 160 years, Roberts Bridge was in use at its original location. In 1962, the bridge was restored and in 1974, important structural repairs were made. By the 1980's nearly all of the protective structure and some framing were no longer original. However, the actual load bearing bridge was intact. On August 5, 1986, the bridge was vandalized and heavily damaged by fire. On the day following the fire, a group of concerned citizens joined in their resolve to restore Roberts Bridge. Relocation of the bridge to a more accessible and secure site was considered necessary. The site in Eaton was prepared and plans were made for moving the trusses. The move took place on September 20, 1990.
On June 23, 2012, over 100 years since the last covered bridge was built, the all-new Hueston Woods Covered Bridge was dedicated. This bridge is a Burr Arch truss construction similar to the Roberts Bridge, and it has a span of 108 feet over Four Mile Creek in Hueston Woods State Park.
Additional information about Preble County covered bridges can be found in the book, Covered Bridges of Preble County by Seth Schlotterbeck and may be purchased through the Preble County Historical Society.