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Perrine's Bridge: Another Jewel in Ulster County

Updated on November 12, 2012
Perrine's Bridge
Perrine's Bridge | Source

Covered bridges have an old time romanticism about them. Most people do know what a covered bridge is. Basically the covered bridge is a bridge built with a roof and sides. Most, if not all are made out of wood,l at least the ones we picture when we hear 'covered bridge'. They were built, years ago, with 'covers' to protect them from the weather...the protection was more for the traveler than the bridge as the wood had a tendency to deteriorate more quickly than the builders would have liked. They were built only wide enough to allow one lane of traffic, remembering that traffic was most likely a horse and carriage.

Covered bridges originated in Europe but move to the U.S. like so many other things we have in our culture. The longest existing covered bridge in the United States is in Pennsylvania. I would hazard a guess Pennsylvania has close to the highest number of existing covered bridges in the U.S. Covered bridges built today are usually for pedestrians and they are made out of steel beams, we know that wood, though beautiful, is far from practical for a bridge.

Among the existing covered bridges the United States, there is one in New York State, Ulster County. It is known as Perrine's Bridge and is located in a little town called Rifton (about two hours north of NYC). Although it was built for horse and wagon travel it has been a pedestrian only bridge since 1930. It was built in 1850 and restored in the late 1960s. In 1995 it was fully restored...closer to it's original condition than the 1960's restoration. The funds to rebuild were donated by local residents. No one wanted to see the bridge collapse or just fall apart. It had too much history and meant too much to the people in the area.

It is believed to be the oldest covered bridge of its type of construction (Burr Arch) still standing in New York State. There are various things written about it both in the past and in the present. Manufactured goods once passed over Perrine's Bridge to Rosendale where they could continue their journey on barges in the D&H Canal.

Looking inside the bridge
Looking inside the bridge | Source
Covered bridge from Rt. 32 side - in the fall
Covered bridge from Rt. 32 side - in the fall | Source

According to the NY Covered Bridge Society, Perrine's Bridge was built by Benjamin Wood. It is 154' long and 19' 10" wide with a height clearance of 11'. Perrine's bridge is 138 feet long and it spans across the Wallkill River. It was named after a French immigrant who owned a tavern nearby. It was declared an historical site in 1966.

Those are the basic facts about Perrine's Bridge, but what does it mean to the locals? To the locals it's a landmark, a destination, a place to picnic and a place to fish. Yes, all of these. It's quiet (even though it is right next to a thruway overpass). Off the main Rte. 32 and next to the thruway overpass, it is still sitting there by itself. People sometimes go there to sit and think and be alone. No one knows if its the construction, its silent strong appearance, or its age that seems to captivate the soul. As you walk across the bridge you almost feel transported to another time and place...waiting for a horse and carriage to come trotting across beside you and thinking you should be wearing your long dress or fancy trousers. It just has a romantic, old time air about it. You peak down the sides and see the water below you, young and old alike enjoy the sensation.

It's a great place to fish with kids. You don't need a boat, you can fish right from shore on either side. Of course the kids like to go fishing on the far side because it means they get to walk across the bridge. When you walk across the bridge you can see the river below on either side of the bridge floor where there are no floor boards. Once on the other side you can go under the thruway overpass or keep walking to fish out in the open. You could stay on the side of the bridge you are already on but that's not as much fun. You can climb down next to the bridge or go under the thruway overpass. The kids like it under the thruway overpass because there are lots, and I mean lots, of rocks they can throw into the water. It kind of ruins your fishing but it's fun for the kids. We've done a lot of fishing there with our kids. If we get there early enough we pack a lunch and eat it there. Several years ago the Hutteterians donated picnic tables and placed two along the river but we just went with blankets.

If you want to hike you can walk across the bridge and continue to the right to hike in the woods. Watch out for poison ivy of course. You may even run into some wildlife. Kids around eight or so like to stand back from the thruway overpass and watch the cars go by. It's okay as long as they don't get too close.

The beauty of the bridge and its surroundings are lost on no one. The children may not realize it while they are young but as they grow older and are drawn back to the bridge the unconscious beauty and good times they had bring them back.

The photos I have posted are all old and taken with old cameras so they really don't do the site justice.

Perrine's Bridge is another jewel of Ulster County.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Have you ever visited a covered bridge?

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Different Views of Perrine's Bridge

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Looking at the bridge from across the roadLooking toward the bridge FROM Rt. 32 side - in the summerCovered Bridge looking TOWARD Rt. 32Under the Thruway Bridge looking at Perrine's (Toward Rt. 32)A fall picture with special effects added.Perrine's Bridge prior to its restoration
Looking at the bridge from across the road
Looking at the bridge from across the road | Source
Looking toward the bridge FROM Rt. 32 side - in the summer
Looking toward the bridge FROM Rt. 32 side - in the summer | Source
Covered Bridge looking TOWARD Rt. 32
Covered Bridge looking TOWARD Rt. 32 | Source
Under the Thruway Bridge looking at Perrine's (Toward Rt. 32)
Under the Thruway Bridge looking at Perrine's (Toward Rt. 32) | Source
A fall picture with special effects added.
A fall picture with special effects added. | Source
Perrine's Bridge prior to its restoration
Perrine's Bridge prior to its restoration | Source


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Ronnie. We've spent a lot of time there over the years.

    • profile image

      Ronnie 6 years ago

      I saw my first covered bridge in Lancaster PA so fancinated with them every since. You done Perinnes Bridge proud.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Rusticliving, they really have a charm. Glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 6 years ago from California

      I actually developed a fascination for covered bridges when I saw the movie "Bridges of Madison County". I loved the look and the old charm of them. Beautiful hub and so well thought of! Voted Up!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Glad I could bring back memories. It's always been such a part of this area. I didn't mention parking there when we were teenagers ;o

    • Wayne Craig profile image

      Wayne Craig 6 years ago

      I remember going as a kid and walking on either side. As I got close to being a teenager, My uncle took me fishing there! It was so much fun! One night we went to fish overnight. We caught Craw-dads and ate them! Didn't taste that great but what a fun time we had! As I just became a teenager, some friends and I had some parties there. Let's say that they were not dry parties! If only my parents knew, wow! Later in life at age 20 or so, I took my girlfriend there for a hike, many years after that I brought my now wife there and she loved it! Have so many fond memories there! Thanks for the post!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Habbyboomernurse. Covered bridges are certainly a throwback we can enjoy. There are times we just need to relax and forget about where we are. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for the votes!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      I love covered bridges and you've done a great job of sharing why Perrine's Bridge in Ulster County, NY, is special to you and to the locals who live near it.

      Covered bridges are generally attractive to us because they're a throw back to a simpler time when there was more nature and less people and going fishing or picnicking with a friend or family member was one of life's most enjoyable past-times.

      Thanks for reminding us that it's still possible to find a spot like this and enjoy the beautiful serenity that awaits us.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.