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The Kissing Bridge: The world’s longest covered Bridge
Hartland Bridge, New Brunswick, Canada
How long is the world's longest covered bridge?
Copyright @ novascotiamiss, 2012
Coming from Europe, covered bridges are nothing special to me. In Switzerland you find them in almost every corner, the most famous being the Kappelbrücke in Lucerne, the world’s oldest wooden covered bridge dating back to 1333. For years I walked across this splendid structure almost every day without realizing how lucky I was.
When the movie “The Bridges of Madison County” came out, I didn’t understand what all that hype was about. Only then I started realizing that covered bridges are a rarity in North America and some people are willing to travel thousands of miles just to see such a marvel.
Last year, on a bicycle trip from Montreal, Quebec to Halifax, Nova Scotia, we passed through the St. John River Valley and all of a sudden - there it was: The world’s longest covered bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick, Canada. Not ever in our wildest dreams would we have expected to find such an enormous structure in a sleepy little village with only 902 inhabitants. Life is full of surprises and you just have to find them.
A huge sign invited us with the words “come again, you are now entering the longest covered bridge in the world 1282 feet” (391 metres). That’s pretty awesome, compared to the Kappelbrücke’s length which is a mere 560 feet. Also, the Kappelbrücke is only a pedestrian bridge whereas the Hartland bridge is still a working vehicle bridge. It is split into two sides, one for vehicle and the other one for foot traffic. So we could safely check out the impressive beams while the cars were roaring past us (not that they have a lot of traffic in Hartland, after all this place is in the middle of nowhere).
The original uncovered toll bridge was built in 1901 to connect Hartland with Somerville. A few times it suffered severe damage; in 1907 due to a fire and in 1920 due to severe river ice. The covering of the bridge in 1922 caused quite a stir and was met by heavy opposition. Some concerned citizens were worried that it would lead to ”indecent behaviour” and that’s exactly what happened. In the times of horse and wagon it became known as the “kissing bridge”. Quite often young couples would stop in the middle to embrace and kiss. This romantic tale inspired a couple from Toronto to hold the first Bridge Wedding in 1993.
And, I almost forgot to mention that they also call it the “wishing bridge”. Your wish is supposed to come true if you drive across the entire length while holding your breath, closing your eyes and crossing your fingers. Of course you are only allowed to do this if you are sitting in the passenger seat. Unfortunately we couldn’t make a wish that day as we didn’t want to risk our life. One of the disadvantages of traveling by bicycle. Sometimes life just isn’t fair, but we still enjoyed this experience tremendously. After all, how many people can say that they cycled over the world’s longest covered bridge?