Do You Know The History Behind The Covered Bridge At Amnicon State Park?
The photo-worthy covered bridge at Amicon Falls State Park just south of Superior, Wisconsin is a neat part of the park experience for visitors. The history behind the bridge is actually quite remarkable - going way beyond the park it is found in.
The covered bridge, referred to by park officials as "Horton Bridge" is named after the designer of the structure. The 55-foot-long span has been in its current location for nearly a century, but that's not where it was originally constructed.
Here's a look at the cool history of this famous covered bridge.
The namesake of Amnicon Falls State Park's Horton Bridge
Charles M. Horton, born in Canandaigua, New York in the 1850s, found his way to the Twin Ports area in the 1890s, marrying a woman named Theresa Stone in 1893. According to the LaCrosse Public Library, Horton designed and built bridges, getting several patents for elements of bridge construction.
One of the notable patents was for a "truss and bridge" design that reduced the use of rivets and bolts in construction. He promoted his design as one he claimed could be "assembled quickly and easily, without expensive machinery and tools". His claims also stated that the less-expensive bridges were also stronger, lighter, and more durable than other designs of the era.
His unique designs were used in the construction of a few bridges in Wisconsin and Indiana, with a concentration of them in La Crosse County, where he moved to after living in the Duluth-Superior area.
The origin of Amnicon Falls State Park's Horton Bridge
The bridge in Amnicon Falls State Park was originally built as a highway bridge that was constructed to cross the Amnicon River not far from where it is located today - presumably in or near the area where Highway 2 crosses the Amnicon River near the entrance to the park. You can see the bridge's current location in the map below in relation to the nearby highway.
The exact date of the construction is not specified, but it was built based on designs from the late 1800s. The original design was not covered by a roof, as it is today. That was added later.
While the Wisconsin DNR says it is unknown how many bridges he and his company built over the years, they are aware of 6 such bridges in Wisconsin that currently exist. These other bridges are also owned by the Wisconsin DNR, located at the Van Loon Wildlife Area in La Crosse County.
The move of the Horton Bridge to Amnicon Falls State Park
In 1930, the bridge was moved from its highway location to where it rests today, within the borders of Amnicon Falls State Park. The bridge gave park visitors access to the island around which the Amnicon River flows, providing views of the river and waterfalls below.
The Wisconsin DNR says the roof was added in 1939 by the Brule Civilian Conservation Corps, however, this part of the bridge's construction has been replaced a few times. The first replacement was in 1941 after heavy snow collapsed the roof. The second time was after a fire set by vandals destroyed the roof.
While it wasn't initially a covered bridge, it has become well-known as such a bridge in the years since it was added to the structure. Travel & Leisure named it one of the 20 most beautiful covered bridges in America.
Aside from the beautiful, rustic structure of the bridge itself, the stunning natural surroundings and roaring Amnicon River below all combine to earn it the #14 spot on that list.