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Keyword: department of public works

Teri Rising, Preservation Planner
Baltimore County Office of Planning

photo of the restored bridgeIf your travels don’t normally take you across the newly restored Jericho Covered Bridge on Jericho Road in Kingsville, it’s worth a special trip to see this beautiful landmark and to visit the historic Jerusalem Mill Village. The Jericho Road Covered Bridge, jointly owned by Baltimore and Harford Counties, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 13, 1978 and the Baltimore County Landmarks List on October 31, 1978.  It was among the first group of landmarks to be designated by the newly created Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission.  While Maryland has a significant collection of historic bridges representing multiple eras of construction, the Jericho Road Covered Bridge is the only covered bridge surviving in Baltimore and Harford Counties and one of a handful remaining in the state. 

Constructed in 1865, the bridge is significant as the last such span in either Baltimore or Harford Counties and its basic structure is an authentic survivor of the 19th century horse-drawn era. Historic documentation suggests that it may have been built to provide a free crossing by avoiding area toll roads like the Joppa Rolling Road (since renamed Bradshaw Road) and the Jerusalem Pike or Philadelphia Turnpike. 

The earliest bridges in the County were often constructed and maintained by local landowners at their own expense or by turnpike companies.  As the road system grew, Baltimore County systematically funded the construction of many bridges, often replacing crude wood bridges or bridges damaged by flood or fire. Citizens of both Baltimore and Harford Counties had been asking the Baltimore County Commissioners to fund a bridge crossing over the Little Gunpowder Falls for some time. Following the presentation of petitions filed on behalf of residents from both counties, a bill was passed on March 4, 1864. The winning bridge proposal was for a Burr arch through truss bridge, named for design inventor, Theodore Burr of Pennsylvania, who patented the support design in 1804.  The bridge was completed by December of 1865 under the supervision of Thomas F. Forsyth. 

photo of ribbon-cuttingThe recently unveiled $1.7 million restoration represents a multiyear effort undertaken with the cooperation of Federal, State and local government agencies, engineers and preservationists who had the challenging task of balancing transportation requirements, funding availability and historic preservation goals in the early project planning stages.   The bridge had previously undergone two substantial rehabilitations in the mid 1930’s and 1982, but some of the later work was not sensitive to some historic elements.

The County Department of Public Works carefully planned and performed this most recent restoration so that the historic features and character of the bridge were revealed, retained and preserved.  The result of this combined effort is a careful and historically sensitive restoration that returned the bridge to its 1930’s era appearance.

Sources consulted:

John McGrain, “Jericho Covered Bridge: BA-361”, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, (July, 1977)

John McGrain, The Molinography of Maryland: a tabulation of mills, furnaces, and primitive industries [Maryland State Archives, 2007]

William Hollifield, Difficulties Made Easy: History of the Turnpikes of Baltimore City and County.  [Cockeysville, MD: Baltimore County Historical Society, 1978]

Louis Berger & Associates and P.A.C. Spero & Company, “Historic Highway Bridges In Maryland: 1631-1960, Historic Context Report”, (Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, October, 1995)

“Covered Bridge, Jericho Road spanning Little Gunpowder Falls, Jerusalem, Baltimore County, MD.”, Survey (photographs, measured drawings, written historical and descriptive data), Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1977. From Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (HABS MD, 13-JERU.V, 1-  accessed April 5, 2016).

Jack L. Shagena, Jr., Jerusalem, A Preserved Mill Village, [Baltimore, MD: Jack L. Shagena Jr., 2007]

Sia, Richard H. P. "’Bridge to Past' Near Kingsville Reopens." The Sun (1837-1990), Jul 02, 1983. 1,

- Celebrating Shared History of Only Remaining Covered Bridge in Either County

Following a year of careful restoration work, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman officially reopened to traffic the historic Jericho Road Covered Bridge in Kingsville.  

“This bridge is very picturesque, but even if it wasn’t, there is real value in honoring the past and exposing our young people to the experiences that built our great nation,” said Kamenetz.

About the Jericho Road Covered Bridge

photo of ribbon-cuttingThe Civil War era bridge, which borders Baltimore and Harford counties and is jointly owned by both, had been deteriorating, with parts of the wood arch and truss system weakened by parasites and the bridge deck needing replacement. The structure was closed a year ago and craftsmen from Barns and Bridges of News England, Inc. worked in coordination with Kingsley Construction to make historically sensitive repairs. The $1.7 million restoration project was funded primarily with a grant from the National Historic Bridge Preservation Program, with Baltimore and Harford Counties each funding 10% of the total cost.

The bridge, which spans the Little Gunpowder Falls, was built in 1865 and is significant as the only remaining covered bridge in the two counties. Though repaired many times, 60% of the wooden structure is original. The bridge was among the first properties designated as a historic landmarks by the Baltimore County Council in 1976 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places that same year.

The structure is a timber Burr Arch Truss design, meaning that both the arch and the truss system work together to bear the load. It was originally built of eastern white pine. The current restoration, however, relies primarily on Douglas fir and locust – woods which are lighter and more resistant to decay. The covered bridge is 86 feet long and 14 feet wide. It is roofed with cedar shakes, has a timber plank deck and carries about 700 vehicles each day.

The bridge underwent two major rehabilitations in 1932 and 1982, but some of the alterations were not historically sensitive. This most recent restoration was carefully planned and performed so that the historic features and character of the bridge were retained and preserved. 

"The restoration of this iconic bridge was made possible thanks to partnerships on so many levels,” said Baltimore County 5th District Councilman David Marks. “The many years of work paid off, and the bridge looks fantastic."

Bridge is One of Many Attractions of Historic Jerusalem Mill Village

To mark the grand opening, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman shared a horse-drawn buggy ride across the bridge after a short ribbon-cutting ceremony. In addition, the Friends of Jerusalem Mill, Inc., a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving local heritage, hosted tours, demonstrations and refreshments in the historic Jerusalem Mill Village, which features a Visitor’s Center, a restored mill building, 1930s General Store and a blacksmith’s shop.


Celebrate Earth Day Every Day!

Baltimore County will host a joint compost bin and rain barrel sale on Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The sale will be held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, located at 2200 York Road in Timonium (enter near the main gate). These products enable residents to celebrate Earth Day (April 22) through the sustainable practices of home composting and rainwater reuse.

Compost bins, valued at $100, will be available for sale at $35 each. Rain barrels, valued at $120, will be available for sale at $50 each. Both prices include tax. These are the lowest prices you will find in Maryland for these items this year. Cash, checks, and credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) will be accepted. The sale will occur rain or shine, and all items will be available on a first-come, first-served basis (while supplies last). This sale is not limited to residents of Baltimore County.

Compost bins are shipped in two pieces and rain barrels are shipped in one piece; either product will fit in any car.

 Benefits of Composting

Through decomposition, composting converts yard materials (grass, leaves, and small brush) into a rich soil-enhancing material called humus. When this material is mixed with the soil in your gardens or on your lawn, it returns nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and many trace minerals that are beneficial for plant health and growth. Using compost also helps increase water retention in sandy soils and aids drainage in heavy and clay soils. Please note that to prevent problems with rodents and other animals, the Baltimore County Code prohibits placing any type of food material in compost piles or bins.

Rain Barrels Help Your Garden and the Environment

Collecting and reusing rainwater is a great way to help the environment and your garden because rainwater is free from chlorine and other water treatment chemicals. Using a rain barrel reduces water pollution that can, at times, be caused by stormwater runoff.

This sale will be a joint effort hosted by Baltimore County’s Department of Public Works, Bureau of Solid Waste Management, and the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability.

For more information about this event, residents may visit the solid waste management web site or call 410-887-2000.


Revised April 6, 2016