Visiting the 4 Covered Bridges in Missouri (With Maps for Day Trips)

Last updated on May 27th, 2023 at 04:14 am.

Missouri may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of covered bridges, but it is home to several of them. These charming structures harken back to a bygone era when horse-drawn carriages and wagons were the primary mode of transportation. Today, they are cherished landmarks that offer a glimpse into Missouri’s past.

Missouri is home to four remaining covered bridges, each with its own unique history and architectural style. These bridges offer a glimpse into a bygone era, when covered bridges were essential for travel and transportation in rural areas. Today, they are treasured landmarks that attract visitors from all over because they are some of the great attractions in Missouri.

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site

The four covered bridges in Missouri are the Burfordville Covered Bridge, the Union Covered Bridge, the Locust Creek Covered Bridge, and the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge.

They were built in the mid-to-late 1800s and have survived floods, fires, and other natural disasters. Each bridge has its own distinct characteristics, such as the Burfordville Covered Bridge’s multiple kingpost truss design, the Union Covered Bridge’s unique curved portal design, the Locust Creek Covered Bridge’s combination of lattice and kingpost truss designs, and the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge’s use of white oak and locust wood.

Visiting these bridges in the state of Missouri is also an opportunity to explore the surrounding areas and learn more about the state’s rich history and culture. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a scenic road trip, Missouri’s covered bridges are worth visiting.

The Howe Truss System

Sandy Creek Bridge howe truss

The four remaining covered bridges in Missouri were built in the mid-to-late 1800s, during a time when the Howe-truss design was a popular design for covered bridges in the United States. The Howe-truss system uses a combination of wooden verticals, diagonals, and iron rods to create a strong and durable structure.

Three of the four Missouri covered bridges; the Burfordville Covered Bridge, the Union Covered Bridge, and the Locust Creek Covered Bridge, were built using the Howe truss system. This was likely due to the popularity and success of the Howe truss system at the time of construction, as well as the availability of skilled bridge builders who were experienced in using this design.

The Sandy Creek Covered Bridge, on the other hand, was not built with the Howe truss system. Instead, it uses a combination of white oak and locust wood to create a lattice truss design. While the reasons for this different design are not entirely clear, it may have been due to a lack of available iron rods or a desire to use locally available materials.

The Covered Bridges in Missouri

covered bridges in Missouri map

During the 1820s until the turn of the century, approximately 30 covered bridges could be found stretching over the rivers and creeks of Missouri. Presently, the remaining four covered bridges in Missouri are situated on the eastern side of the state.

The 4 Historic Covered Bridges of Missouri

Regardless of the design, each of the Missouri covered bridges has its own unique charm and historical significance. They are a testament to the ingenuity of early bridge builders and the enduring beauty of covered bridges.

Locust Creek Covered Bridge

Locust Creek Covered bridge

The Locust Creek Covered Bridge is located in Laclede County, Missouri, near the town of Brookfield. This bridge was built in 1868 out of white pine and spans 151 feet across Locust Creek and is the lengthiest of the four bridges. This bridge was once used to carry Route 8, the nation’s first transcontinental highway, over Locust Creek.

It was used to transport goods and people across the creek until 1962, when it was closed to traffic.

The Locust Creek Covered Bridge is a single-lane bridge with a wooden deck and siding. It is supported by wooden trusses and a central pier. The bridge was restored in the 1990s and is now open to pedestrian traffic only.

Address: 16597 Dart Road, Laclede, MO 64651

Union Covered Bridge State Historic Site

Union Covered Bridge State Historic Site

The Union Covered Bridge is located in Monroe County, Missouri, near the town of Paris. This bridge was built in 1871 and spans 120 feet across the Elk Fork of the Salt River. The covered bridge is a Burr-arch truss structure (a combination of an arch and a multiple kingpost truss design that was invented in 1804 by Theodore Burr).

It was originally used to transport goods and people across the river, but now it is only open to pedestrians.

The Union Covered Bridge is also a single-lane bridge with a wooden deck and siding. It is supported by wooden trusses and a central pier. The bridge was restored in the 1970s and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Address: 20700 Monroe County Road 962, Paris, MO 65275

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge

Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site

The Sandy Creek Covered Bridge is located in Jefferson County, Missouri, near the town of Hillsboro. This bridge was built in 1872 and spans 86 feet across Sandy Creek. It was used to transport goods and people across the creek until the early 20th century.

The Sandy Creek Covered Bridge is a single-lane bridge with a wooden deck and siding. It is supported by wooden trusses and a central pier. The bridge was restored in the 1980s and is now open to pedestrians.

Address: 9090 Old Lemay Ferry Rd, Hillsboro, MO 63050

Burfordville Covered Bridge

burfordville covered bridge

The Burfordville Covered Bridge is located in Burfordville, Missouri, just north of the town of Cape Girardeau (in Cape Girardeau County). This bridge was built in 1858, making it oldest remaining covered bridge in Missouri. It was originally used to transport goods across the Whitewater River, but now it serves as a pedestrian walkway.

The Burfordville Covered Bridge is 140 feet long and 14 feet wide. It is a single-lane bridge with a wooden deck and siding. The bridge is supported by two stone abutments and a central pier.

Address: 317 State Hwy HH, Burfordville, MO 63739

Protection of the Historic Missouri Bridges

In 1967, a bill was approved by the Missouri Legislature that granted authority to the Missouri State Park Board to acquire, renovate and safeguard the five remaining covered bridges in the state. Unfortunately, the Mexico, Missouri covered bridge was swept away by a flood waters before the ownership transfer to the state, which means that only four of these bridges were preserved.

Planning a day Trip to see the Missouri Covered Bridges

Missouri’s covered bridges offer a unique glimpse into the state’s history and architectural past. Each one tells a story of a bygone era when transportation was much simpler. If you ever have the chance to visit one of these bridges, take the opportunity to appreciate their beauty and history.

It is possible to see all four of Missouri’s historic bridges in one day, but it would require a bit of driving and some careful planning. Here’s are possible routes from both Kansas City and St. Louis that would allow you to see all four bridges in a day:

St. Louis Route

If you start in St. Louis, it’s possible to see all four of Missouri’s covered bridges in one day, but it makes a bit more sense to make it two day trips.

Map of all covered bridges route from St. Louis

Total Miles: 438 | Time Without Stops: 7.5 Hours

Option 1: Sandy Creek and Burfordville Bridges Day Trip

Sandy Creek and Burfordville bridges are both south of St. Louis. Visiting these two bridges from St. Louis is one day would be a 230 mile trip and 4 hours including the trip back to St. Louis. There is really no difference in mileage by doing Sandy Creek and Burfordville bridges in either order.

  1. Sandy Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site. From St. Louis take I-55 south to exit 195 for Butler Hill Rd, Turn left onto Griffin Rd, Turn left onto MO-21 S/Tesson Ferry Rd, take the Old Missouri 21 exit toward Gold Man and Drive to Old Lemay Ferry Rd.
  2. Burfordville Covered Bridge. From Sandy Creek, take I-55/State Hwy A south to exit 123 for Missouri B toward Biehle, turn right onto MO-72 W, turn left onto Co Rd 349, turn right onto MO-34 W, turn left onto State Hwy HH, which will take you to the bridge.

Option 2: Union and Locust Bridges Day Trip

Union and Locust are north-west of St. Louis. This trip one direction is about 4 hours and 230 miles.

  1. Union Covered Bridge. From St. Louis, Get on I-64 W/US-40 W. Take US-61 N to MO-154 W in Spencer Township. Turn right onto MO-154 W/MO-19 N, turn left onto State Hwy D, turn right onto State Hwy B, Turn left onto State Hwy D and right onto State HWY 15N, turn left of State Hwy AA, right onto State Hwy C until you reach Monroe County Road.
  2. Locust Creek Covered Bridge. From the Union Covered Bridge, head south on US-24 to US-36 and then take US-36 west to the town of Brookfield. From there, take State Highway VV south to the Locust Creek Covered Bridge. This bridge is located about 85 miles west of Paris.

Option 3: Two Day Road Trip Option from St. Louis

If you choose to make it a two day road trip head south and visit Sandy Creek and Burfordville bridges. Then make your way northwest and stop in either Augusta if you enjoy wine tasting or drive closer to the Union bridge with a stop in Florida to visit the Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site.

Kansas City Route

If you start in Kansas City, it’s possible to see all four of Missouri’s covered bridges in one day. Another option is to make it a two day road trip and stay the night in either St. Louis for a big city experience or Augusta if you enjoy wine tasting.

This is the best route you could take from Kansas City:

Map of all covered bridges route from Kansas City

Total Miles: 438 | Time Without Stops: 7.5 Hours

  1. Locust Creek Covered Bridge. Start your day by driving east on I-70 to the Locust Creek Covered Bridge. From Kansas City, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive to the bridge. To get there, take I-70 east to the US-65 exit (Exit 78) and head north on US-65. Turn left onto State Highway VV, which will take you to the bridge.
  2. Union Covered Bridge. After visiting the Locust Creek Covered Bridge, head back south on State Highway VV to US-36 and then take US-36 east to the Union Covered Bridge. This bridge is located near the town of Paris, Missouri, about 60 miles east of the Locust Creek Bridge.
  3. Sandy Creek Covered Bridge. From Union Creek, take State Hwy AA, State Hwy D and MO-154 E to US-54 E in Spencer Township. Head north on State Highway OO to US-61 and then take US-61 north to State Highway B. Follow State Highway B east to Sandy Creek Road, which will take you to the Sandy Creek Covered Bridge.
  4. Burfordville Covered Bridge. Finally, From the Sandy Creek Bridge, take I-55/State Hwy A south to exit 123 for Missouri B toward Biehle, turn right onto MO-72 W, turn left onto Co Rd 349, turn right onto MO-34 W, turn left onto State Hwy HH, which will take you to the bridge.

Again, this is just one possible route, and you may want to adjust it based on your starting point, the time of day, and other factors. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy each bridge and the surrounding areas, and consider stopping at some of the other historic sites and attractions along the way.

More historic places to visit in Missouri!

Missouri has a rich history, and there are plenty of other historic places to visit that would be of interest to people who appreciate covered bridges. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum – Located in Hannibal, Missouri, this museum offers a glimpse into the life of one of America’s most beloved authors, Mark Twain. Visitors can tour Twain’s childhood home and learn about his life and work.
  2. Jesse James Boyhood Home and Museum – This historic site is located in Kearney, Missouri. Delving into the story of Jesse James offers a fascinating insight into various aspects of American history, ranging from the Civil War, slavery, and the Wild West, to Americana in general. Visiting the home and museum is a great way to learn about Jesse James and the James Family.
  3. Old Courthouse – Located in downtown St. Louis, the Old Courthouse is a beautiful example of 19th-century architecture. It was the site of the famous Dred Scott case, which played a pivotal role in the lead-up to the Civil War.
  4. Hermann Historic District – Hermann is a charming town on the banks of the Missouri River is known for its German heritage and beautiful architecture. Visitors can tour the town’s historic buildings and enjoy local wines and cuisine.
  5. Ha Ha Tonka State Park – This park near Camdenton, Missouri, features a beautiful castle-like mansion that was built in the early 20th century. Visitors can tour the mansion and explore the park’s many hiking trails and scenic overlooks.

All of these sites offer a fascinating glimpse into Missouri’s history and culture, and they would be great additions to any itinerary that includes visits to the state’s covered bridges.

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2 thoughts on “Visiting the 4 Covered Bridges in Missouri (With Maps for Day Trips)”

  1. My BFF and I are planning a trip to see all four bridges in October. Are all the bridges approachable by car or will we have to hike a ways to get to them?

    Reply
    • Donna,
      You can get very close to all of them, but you can’t drive thru any of them. They are all historic sites now. So, parking is very close and you then walk to each bridge. Hope that helps!
      Alexa

      Reply

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