Carol Highsmith and MD State Highway Administration
Utica Covered Bridge
Utica Road, Thurmont, Frederick County
The Utica Covered Bridge is a Burr arch truss covered bridge which crosses Fishing Creek. The wood bridge, constructed of large hand hewn members, is a combination of the wooden arch and a multiple post truss pattern, called a Burr truss. The bridge, which is 101 feet in length, crosses the creek in two spans. Small painted advertisements of local merchants are still visible on the interior rafters of the bridge. The decking and clapboarding are nearly identical to the Roddy Road Bridge and Loys Station Bridge, two other covered bridges in Frederick County. The Utica Bridge originally spanned the Monocacy in the current location of the Devilbiss Bridge, having been built in 1834, but was badly damaged during the 1889 flood. The surviving half of the bridge was disassembled and moved by wagon to Utica and reassembled over Fishing Creek in 1891. The wooden stringers were replaced with steel in 1934 but corrosion had reduced the load capacity of the bridge to only two tons by the time it was renovated again in December 1996-May 1997.
The Roddy Road, Loys Station, and Utica Bridges are three of only eight remaining covered bridges in the state of Maryland. Until the introduction of the steel truss bridge technology in the mid 19th century, most of the crossings in the county were wood truss structures, later covered for protection from the elements. At least 52 such structures once graced the landscape of the state; but storms, fires, and progress have claimed almost all of them. Preservation of the remaining structures as examples of 19th century bridge engineering techniques is extremely important to the history of Frederick County and the state of Maryland. The three bridges provide a good comparative study of wood bridge truss techniques, as each displays a different truss design. The Utica Bridge has a Burr truss, named after Theodore Burr, who patented the design in 1817.