Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society of Pennsylvania, Inc.

Meeting of July 6, 2014

Annual Picnic at Poole Forge Historic Park

First Vice President Jim Smedley called the meeting to order at 1:24 p.m. He welcomed all those in attendance and mentioned that many had attended a very enjoyable safari a month ago, led by Janis Ford and Pat Hoffmannbeck which he would talk about later.  He then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  New members/guest in attendance included Ortha Klischer and her daughter Ortha and son-in-law Stan.  Ortha commented that her daughter and son-in-law were taking great care of her!

Minutes of last month’s meeting were being passed around for review so they could be modified and/or approved later in the meeting.

Treasurer Robert J. Kuether delivered his report for June 2014.  At month’s end, the Society had 397 members, 24 less than a year ago.  The Treasurer’s report was approved as presented.


Ray Finkelstein provided an update on Schlicher’s Bridge (PA-39-06 #2) and announced the Ribbon-cutting Ceremony is scheduled for July 10th at 2 p.m.  He noted that only 10% of the wood from the old bridge was reused in the rehabilitation.  The bridge is finished, looks great, and has nice landscaping around it.   Regarding concerns as to the authenticity of the bridge, Ben Evans commented that any project in which the PA Historic Museum Commission is involved in must be authentic.  He noted that he had seen the bridge (along with 5 other bridges in Lehigh County) and it looks spectacular.

On their way home from the safari Pat and Ken Cook saw 6 covered bridges – Bowman Mill (35-64-06), Perry County (looks good), Adams / San Toy (35-58-38 #2), Helmick  Mill (35-58-35) [both look real nice especially Helmick], Milton Dye (35-58-41) in Morgan County and Manchester (35-61-33) and Parrish (35-61-34)  in Noble County.  Both have been redone and look real nice.  She and Bonnie Schultz went to the 140th Birthday Party for Mood’s Covered Bridge on June 7th.  They also went to Schlichers.  At that time, it was finished on one side but that looked nice.  They also visited a romantic shelter.

Campbell Fitzhugh said it was great to see everyone.  He just finished his freshman year at Case Western University in Cleveland Ohio where he is majoring in Civil Engineering.  One of his professors is doing research into Burr trusses, testing a model of half a Burr truss in his lab to collect data on how the truss functions structurally.  The hope is that if we better understand how the Burr truss functions engineers might not feel the need to put steel under the bridges.  This summer Campbell is working for Penn Dot as a surveyor.  His surveying work recently took him in the vicinity of Jacks Mountain (PA-01-08) and Sachs (PA-01-01) covered bridges which were two he had never seen before.

Tina Chack provided an article that mentioned our Society.  She visited Linton Stephens (PA-15-03) and Glen Hope (PA-15-02) on June 15th.  Both had water damage from recent storms but not extensive.

Gloria Smedley informed the group that our Facebook page is still very active with 314 ‘friends’ on our page.  Many post updates on bridge rehabilitations and share pictures of bridges visited.  She and Jim created a display and manned it during the first two weeks of May for National Tourism and See Pennsylvania’s Covered Bridges Weeks.  When they went to take down the display the supervisor was disappointed.  Gloria and Jim agreed to make another poster board display and provide a table to set it on that the Welcome Center could keep as their own and put out on display whenever they wanted.  This would be in addition to the glass shelf permanent display we have in one of the glass cabinets at the Welcome Center.


President Joyce L. Soroka was absent due to prescheduled annual family vacation.

The First Vice President, Jim Smedley’s, report was read by Gloria Smedley.  Last month they visited 44 authentic covered bridges in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. Their trip included all 5 bridges in Michigan, 3 in Indiana, and 36 in Ohio.  Bridge highlights were the newly built Hyde Road Bridge (OH-29-109) and Smolen Gulf Bridge (PA-04-64) in Ohio, Langley (MI-75-01), Fallasburg (MI-41-02) and Zehnder’s (MI-73-02) Bridges in Michigan, Ceylon Bridge (IN-01-02) in Indiana and many of the safari bridges.  During their vacation they also managed to see Bronner’s Christmas Shop in Frankenmuth, Michigan where Zehnder’s Bridge is located, Greenfield Village in Michigan where Ackley Bridge (MI-82-01) is located and the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. 

Second Vice President Gregory R. Williams saw 3 bridges last week – Henninger Farm (PA-22-11 #2) still looks good, Weaver’s Mill (PA-36-02), and of course Poole Forge (PA-36-01), which all look good.

On his way home from Safari Tom Walczak, Third Vice President, found 2 mail pouch barns along Rt. 40 he had not seen before.  He stopped in Zanesville and got a great picture of the Y Bridge from Putnam Hill.  He also stopped in Washington County, PA to see the western most covered bridge, Erskine Bridge (PA-63-15).  Also, yesterday in Bedford County he saw Jackson’s Mill (PA-05-25) which is still closed to traffic.  He spoke to a neighbor there who said there have been lots of visits to the bridge by engineers and architects and he was told the repairs would start by spring and the bridge would be open by summer.  He mentioned his fiancé’ JoAnn sends her regards.  He and JoAnn visited Jericho (MD-03-02 & MD-12-01) and Jerusalem Mill in Maryland this weekend.  Since rehabilitation work will be done on this bridge he wanted to get a picture before it started.   Jim added that the deadline for builders to bid on the work has been extended to mid August.  There are 5 companies currently on the list as possible bidders.  Work should begin 3 months after bidding closes mid August.

Tom also added it was nice to see Ortha Klischer and family.  Ortha has been a longstanding member of our Society.  Her birthday is tomorrow – she will be 91.

Fourth Vice President Tina Conn thanked everyone for their thoughts, prayers and cards send regarding the loss of her mother.  Bartram Covered Bridge (PA-15-17 & PA-23-02), to which the society donated funds, has a new metal roof and has been recently painted.  Since this was one of her late husband George’s favorite bridges she will keep up on the status of the bridge for the society.  She plans to attend a meeting Tuesday, July 8th in hopes of getting information on plans for a surveillance system for Bartram’s.  She also attended the 140th Anniversary Party for Moods Covered Bridge.

Recording Secretary Heather Watkins was not present but sent her report which was read by Gloria Smedley.  Heather set up a covered bridge display at the I-95 North Welcome Center and manned the display a few times during National Tourism Week and See Pennsylvania’s Covered Bridges weeks in May.  She met a couple from Maryland who said they had seen about 50 covered bridges in PA so far.  They pointed to Ben and June’s book and said that’s the book they have.  When she arrived to pick up the display, she met the new supervisor, who said the display is really popular and she would like to leave it up the rest of the summer.

Corresponding Secretary / Program Chair Pamela A. Heisey reported on mail received in our P.O. Box.  Doris Taylor sent a note thanking everyone for their cards and sympathies regarding the death of her brother, Bob Taylor.  Barbara McCauley sent an article on repair work to be done on the deck of Little Gap Bridge (PA-13-02) in Carbon County.  The work should be done by the end of the year.  The I-83 Welcome Center sent a thank you note to the society for our participation during the two weeks in May and said they hoped to see us again next year.

Treasurer Bob Kuether attended and set up the Country Store at the Moods Anniversary Event. He thanked those who helped man the store, Ray and Linda Finkelstein, Ed Myers and Tina Conn.  He attended the Columbia County Breakfast for the Bridge.  He visited Parr’s Mill (PA-19-29) and reported they did a great job on the bridge.  He also visited Rock (PA-54-02) where they are making progress on its rehabilitation and Zimmerman (PA-54-01).  Yesterday he and Judy Kuether visited the Lancaster Visitors Center where they met several people for across the U.S. who were there to see the Lancaster bridges.

Historian Fred J. Moll was absent.

Jim thanked everyone who provided information for the latest newsletter and mentioned that the deadline for the next edition of Pennsylvania Crossings is October 12th, the day of our meeting and auction at St. Paul’s Church.



Desi Kuether is recovering from knee surgery she had about 2 weeks ago.


The NYSCBS cancelled their July 13th meeting due to the illness of their President Donna Freeland.


Jim Smedley got a message from Sandy Adrion about Clayton and Yvonne Geib who were members in our society until 2011.  They are now in Assisted Living and not doing very well.  Clayton just had hip surgery.  If you would like to send a get-well or thinking of you card, you can send it to them in care of Sandy Adrion.  The address is:  Yvonne and Clayton Geib,  C/O Sandy Adrion, 40 W. Evanson Ave, Pine Hill, NJ 08021-4418.


Janet Orland reported that her husband is doing well after his emergency surgery for diverticulitis but needs a second surgery.  She thanked everyone for sending prayers and thoughts for his recovery.



Jim Smedley mentioned the May 31st –June 1st 2014 safari in Central Ohio, primarily Fairfield County.  Janis Ford and Pat Hoffmannbeck led on us on a very enjoyable safari.  We had great weather both days.  Michael added that the hotel clerk gave him a handful of postcards of George Hutchins Bridge to distribute to anyone who did not get one at the safari. 


Michael announced that Author Terry Miller will attend the Ohio Historic Bridge Association Meeting on July 20th.  He is author of the new book Americas Covered Bridges which Michael added ‘is spectacular’.



Jim solicited suggestions for the 2015 Safari.  Michael Chorazy suggested Bedford or Chester County where several bridges are being worked on now.  By 2015 both Speakman bridges would be done.  Clyde Scheib suggested Northeast Ohio since he would only be able to see these bridges if we went there on safari.  Tom suggested 1) Washington/Greene Counties, 2) Sullivan/Lycoming Counties – although only 6 bridges and we could add Bradford, and 3) New York Sullivan/Oster Counties.  (Jim noted that Ed Myers did a lot of research on possibility of a New York safari.)


Jim asked for volunteers to lead a 2015 safari.  Michael volunteered to lead Chester County, Tom said he would lead a Washington-Greene safari and Bob said he would help Tom with a Washington/Greene Safari.


All suggestions will be put before the Executive Board with intention of making a final decision by September 2014 so the 2015 safari leader(s) can begin work on it.


Rock Bridge - An article in the Republican Herald on June 14th said the bridge has been dismantled and Deblin Inc is now starting the rebuilding process.  Deblin said only 30% of the wood should need to be replaced.


Colemanville Bridge - An article in Lancaster on line said some rotting of wood has been noticed although the rotted wood is not significant to support of the bridge, it will be officially inspected in September and repairs will be made if necessary.  A question was also raised as to why the stone veneer on the Martic Township side of the bridge was never finished.  It has been that way for 25 years.  County officials said fixing the stone veneer is not a priority.


Nominating Committee – Ray Finkelstein announced there are 4 openings for officers for the coming year – 2nd, 3rd, 4th Vice Presidents and Recording Secretary.  Tom has agreed to be President.  There are currently 4 volunteers to fill these positions – Ray Finkelstein, Steve Wolfhope, Ed Myers and Gloria Smedley.  Members were encouraged to volunteer and reminded that the positions are still open.  Jim encouraged members to let the nominating committee members (Ray Finkelstein, Steve Wolfhope, Bonnie Schultz) know if they are interested in being an officer.



On July 12th The New Holland American Legion Riders of Post 662 are sponsoring a covered bridge motorcycle ride to raise money for the National Military Family Association. Cost is $15 per rider and $10 per passenger. Registration will be from 9-11 am at Post 662, at 35 S. Hoover Ave., New Holland. Ride begins at 11am. Last year they raised $4,000.  They hope to raise $5,000 this year.  The ride is in southeastern Lancaster County. (I believe there is a patch available for sale to commemorate this ride.)

July 27th the NSPCB will hold its monthly meeting at Wyit Sprowls Bridge (PA-63-29) in Washington County starting at 1pm at the Parkview Pavilion.  You do not have to be a member of the NSPCB to attend.  Tom Walczak will lead a mini safari after the meeting.

Upcoming meetings for our Society include our annual Meeting at a Bridge at Shearer’s Bridge (PA-36-31 #2) in Manheim on August 3rd.  This is a bring-your-own lunch picnic.  We have the pavilion all day.  Lunch will be about noon followed by our Business Meeting about 1 p.m.  After the meeting feel free to stay as long as you wish.

Our meeting in October will not be at Knoebel’s.  We will meet at St. Paul’s church on October 12 which is the 2nd weekend in October and we will have an auction for that meeting.  The Kuethers will set up the Country Store at Knoebels, October 2-5, so members can still attend the festival at Knoebels and they would appreciate all the help they can get.


There were no changes or corrections to the June Meeting Minutes.  They were approved as presented.


Our Next Meeting will be held on Sunday, August 3rd at Shearer’s Bridge in Manheim, bring-your-own lunch.



The meeting was adjourned at 2:17 p.m.


Respectfully Submitted by Gloria Smedley (for Heather Watkins)

July 7, 2014