Zumbrota Covered Bridge

Music & Arts Festival

held the third weekend in June

Activities include arts & crafts, variety of food booths, sports tournaments, parade, street dance and activities for the entire family. The Covered Bridge Music & Arts Festival is held the third weekend in June. Most activities are held at the Covered Bridge Park and East Park. For more information call City Hall at 507-732-7318.

1932 – Zumbrota Covered Bridge needed repairs shortly before it was removed. The sign over the entrance – “$10 fine for driving faster than a walk across this bridge” – was removed.

1970 – Covered Bridge is moved to the Covered Bridge Park.

1997 – A temporary trestle and tracks were constructed to help slide the Covered Bridge across the Zumbro River.

At its present location on West Avenue, the bridge provides a safe Zumbro River crossing for walkers and bikers.

Covered Bridge

Zumbrota

Covered Bridge

Minnesota's last remaining covered bridge, the Zumbrota Covered Bridge, is located in Zumbrota, Minnesota in Goodhue County and crosses the North Fork of the Zumbro River.

1856  The Strafford Western Immigration Company traveled west from Massachusetts to find a new homestead. Coming upon the beautiful Zumbro River Valley, they founded the settlement that would become the city of Zumbrota. A series of bridges were built but where destroyed by ice and flooding. Something more permanent was needed to assistant travelers going north from Zumbrota to Goodhue and Red Wing.

It should be noted that the famous Dubuque to St. Paul stagecoach trail passed through downtown Zumbrota but its river crossing was northwest and up stream from the city and never did use the Zumbrota Covered Bridge, as sometimes reported. Today, U.S. Highway 52 roughly follows this old trail.

1869   The Zumbrota Covered Bridge was first constructed without a roof over the river on Highway 58 – at the north end of the Main Street business district.

The bridge was constructed using the town lattice truss design, plans by A.J. Thatcher and construction supervised by E.L. Kingsburg. As initially constructed, the bridge was built with white-pine timbers used for the structural supports and the floor, and the planks were pinned together with turned white-oak dowels. The dowels were soaked in linseed oil and coated with a red iron oxide in order to preserve them from the elements.

The bridge has a span of about one hundred twenty feet and is fifteen feet wide. Originally, no center support was used. The exterior was originally painted red. In later years it was painted white and is red again today.

1871 The bridge became a covered bridge. It was enclosed with weatherproof sides and portals and a low gabled roof with cedar shingles. A vertical board-and-batten exterior trim was added to the sides and portals. The enclosure lengthened the life of the structural supports beyond their normal projected twenty years of serviceability.

1876 The bridge was raised about two feet on both ends.

1932 The Covered Bridge was replaced by the Minnesota Highway Department with a steel bridge that could handle the increased traffic. The bridge was moved to the nearby Goodhue County Fairgrounds for preservation purposes. It was used during Fair Week for exhibitions, a bar and storage.

1964 The Zumbrota Covered Bridge Society was formed. A pasture along the Zumbro River was transformed into the Covered Bridge Park. The organization began the community's efforts to preserve the last remaining authentic covered bridge in Minnesota.

1970 The Covered Bridge was moved from the fairgrounds to the Covered Bridge Park. Due to a lack of funds and the poor condition of the bridge, the decision was made to not put it across the river.

1997 The Covered Bridge was placed over the Zumbro River at West Avenue, one block west of its original location and near the City Hall and Public Library. A concrete center support column and steel under-support beams were added. From years of sitting on the ground, the wooden under-structure had deteriorated. In addition to saving the old bridge, the new location provided a safe pedestrian river crossing to connect the public swimming pool and park to the downtown and the most populated portion of the city.The relocation project was done by Minnowa Construction of Harmony, Minnesota and largely paid for by ISTEA grant funds and some local contributions.

For 63 years, 1869-1932, the Zumbrota Covered Bridge was the focal point of traffic passing north out of Zumbrota and on to Goodhue and Red Wing.


2007 The Covered Bridge Task Force was organized at the initiative of the Zumbrota Community Trust. It replaced the Zumbrota Covered Bridge Society. The Task Force has worked to promote, protect and preserve the historic bridge. The first goal was to establish the Covered Bridge Endowment Fund. Annual earned income on the fund is used for the efforts listed above. Actions include producing the story of the Covered Bridge in video format, planning Plein Aire (painting in the open air) events where artists produced paintings of the bridge, plus providing funds to paint the bridge. A special effort to provide fire protection and surveillance equipment was successful and a grant was received from the National Covered Bridge Preservation Program.

Preservation

The preservation of the Covered Bridge is assured not only by the Zumbrota community, but also by the Goodhue County Historical Society and the Minnesota Historical Society which have contributed both support and technical assistance.

Considered a form of art by many, and a technical innovation when they were first built, covered bridges, like the Zumbrota Covered Bridge, represent the ideals, skills, and heritage of those New Englanders who were early pioneers in the settlement of the west.

The Historic American Building Survey of 1934 took note of the Zumbrota Covered Bridge in records on file at the Library of Congress. A citation from Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes stated that "... the bridge is of exceptional historical and architectural interest and worthy of the most careful preservation for the future.”

In 1996, AIA Minnesota – A Society of the American Institute of Architects included the Zumbrota Covered Bridge in its publication, entitled, “100 places plus 1” – An unofficial architectural survey of favorite Minnesota sites.

The Zumbrota Covered Bridge is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.


Proposal

2014 To become part of the city hall/public library campus, a proposal was submitted to the Zumbrota Economic Development Authority (EDA), to build a visitors center/trail head structure near the Covered Bridge. The trail head would be the southern entrance-point for bikers and hikers onto the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail.

When completed, the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail will connect Pine Island to Red Wing. At Pine Island, the trail would join with the Douglas Trail to Rochester. At Red Wing, the trial would join the Cannon Trail to Cannon Falls.

Currently the Goodhue Pioneer State Trail is paved and complete from Zumbrota and north about four miles, and from Hay Creek to Red Wing.

A Visitors Center/Trail Head facility has been proposed for this City Hall, Public Library, Covered Bridge complex.

1928 – Zumbrota Covered Bridge located on Main Street.

First wedding in Covered Bridge from October 10,1979 edition of The Zumbrota News. Click on to enlarge.

Inside the Zumbrota Covered Bridge – Town lattice truss design.

Zumbrota Covered Bridge

Covered bridges were “Kissing Bridges” – BB+KE

Dotting the countryside like year-round Christmas cards, more than 1,500 covered bridges remain to remind Americans of their horse 'n buggy past. Architecturally sound and uniquely suited to the woodland country, these bridges have weathered time with the same ease with which they spanned the nation's streams a century ago.


Though most common in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and the New England States, these sturdy structures can be found as far west as California, as far south as Louisiana, as far north as Alaska.


The Midwestern and central plain states are almost devoid of these landmarks, however, perhaps because the great land rush was to the western coastal states during the 1800's and they did not become densely populated until after the covered bridge era. Not the least of the casualties of the Civil War was the destruction of hundreds of these "kissing bridges." Yet, the wonder is not that so many of these links with the past have disappeared, but that so many remain.


Many citizens are now dedicated to assuring that the covered bridge will continue to add its special charm to rural America: camera-laden tourists wander off the well-trodden path in search of them, artists and poets have become "covered bridge buffs," civic groups for their restoration and reconstruction have come into being. 

(Words courtesy Hammermill Paper)

Zumbrota’s first newspaper featured the covered bridge (Zumbrota Independent, 1875 to 1902).

Zumbrota Covered Bridge, west side