Engineering marvels of their time, the historic covered bridges of Litchfield Hills provide a scenic backdrop for picture perfect photos anytime of year. Best of all, two of three covered bridges in Northwest Connecticut can still be crossed by auto traffic.
After exploring New Milford, take Rte. 7 north for 10 scenic miles following the serpentine course of the Housatonic River to South Kent.
Here you will find Bull's Bridge whose roots date to the Revolution. The bridge you see today was rebuilt in 1842 using the town and queen truss design. Over the years, one bridge replaced another as each was washed away by high water and ice. During the Revolutionary War, Kent supplied the Continental Army with iron ore, goods and soldiers.
Local history has documented that George Washington had an accident at Bull's Bridge in 1781. What happened has never been told in detail, but one thing is clear; one of his horses, perhaps his own mount, fell in the raging Housatonic River. One exciting bit of confirmation appears in George Washington's own expense account for March 3, 1781. The first travel expense of the day noted: getting a horse out of Bull's Bridge Falls, $215. The amount spent indicates that it involved quite a rescue operation. It must have taken time and the General was on his way to make plans with the French for naval support of New York. Any ordinary horse might have been allowed to stay in the river. It might be assumed that this was no ordinary horse, and that perhaps it was Washington's own mount. Today, we can only wonder.
Continuing on Rte. 7 north, take time to explore the center of Kent before visiting Kent Falls State Park. Here you will find an excellent reproduction of a Town lattice-type covered bridge common in the area. Itiel Town, an architect from New Haven CT patented a lattice truss design in 1820 that was used in all three-area bridges, as well as in covered bridges nationwide. This design allowed builders to make longer, stronger covered bridges.
Continue on Rte. 7 north past bucolic scenes reminiscent of classic postcards and calendars depicting rural New England to the jct. of Rte. 7 and 128.
Spanning the Housatonic River, the iconic barn red West Cornwall covered bridge is a symbol of the early history of the area. Known locally as a "Kissing Bridge" because of its long dark span that encouraged carriages to slow just long enough for courtship, the bridge was built in 1841.
Using an Ithiel Town design, the bridge has an intricate Town and Queen truss lattice pattern made from red spruce. The bridge marks the boundary between the towns of Sharon and Cornwall. If time allows, be sure to explore the quaint village of West Cornwall.
Today, we can admire this photogenic gem thanks to the citizens of Cornwall, who worked to save the bridge from being phased out. In 1973, their efforts were rewarded nationally by winning first prize as an "Outstanding Example of Preservation of a Historic Site" from the Federal Highway Administration.