More than half of the 71 covered bridges known to have been built in the four-county Mid-Hudson Region were in Ulster County (Ulster 38; Sullivan 19; Orange 9; and Dutchess 5). Today, of the nine still standing in the region, five are in Ulster County and four in Sullivan County.
Covered bridges, those still standing and ones that have been lost and largely forgotten, all collectively tell a rich story of the region’s development. Each covered bridge, whether lost or still present, played important roles as utilitarian crossings that connected rural areas with nascent villages and towns, critical links in shaping the economic and social development of nineteenth century America.
While highlighting what is known about the covered bridges in Ulster County, this illustrated talk will situate those in the Mid-Hudson’s region within the broader narrative of America’s nineteenth century technological innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. This was a time when great transformative projects, including canal networks, covered and uncovered bridges, as well as railroads, were envisaged and constructed thus contributing to ushering in of the prosperity of “the American century” that followed.
Ron Knapp is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus, State University of New York at New Paltz. He is the author of over 20 books, including books on Chinese architecture, culture, and the first book to introduce China’s remarkable covered bridges to the West. In 2014, with co-author Terry E. Miller, he published America’s Covered Bridges: Practical Crossings, Nostalgic Icons. Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing at the lecture.