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

Zumbrota Covered Bridge Festival

held on 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.

Click on photos below to enlarge

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 included 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 preservative of the Covered Bridge is assured only only by the Zumbrota community, but also by the Goodhue County 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 erly 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 worth 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 trail 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.


“Historic Covered Bridge is on the Checkpoint MN map”.pdf