Missouri is home to four historic covered bridges. We have a goal to visit all of these beautiful and historic structures this summer during our travels around Missouri. Our first covered bridge excursion was to visit the Locust Creek Covered Bridge in Laclede.
It’s estimated Missouri had 30 covered bridges at one time and while today the state only has four covered bridges still standing, they are beautiful and historic structures. Visiting them will take you along some of the most beautiful backroads in the state. Many of these are roads that you would never find yourself on unless you were hunting down Missouri covered bridges.
The Locust Creek Covered Bridge is located in Laclede and built in 1868. At 151 feet, it is the longest of the four surviving covered bridges in Missouri. Once spanning Locust Creek, it was a part of Route 8, the nation’s first transcontinental highway and part of Pike’s Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway.
Today the bridge is a Missouri state historic site and part of the Missouri State Park system.
Locust Creek Covered Bridge, is located in Linn County and was a link in one of the nation’s earliest transcontinental roads. The bridge was built out of white pine using the Howe-truss system, named for William Howe, who patented the design in 1840.
The essential features of the design were its use of vertical iron rods to draw the diagonal wooden members tight against the top and bottom of the bridge. The bridge features arched entrances with ramps sloping away from both ends.
The interior of the bridge has become a popular place to carve initials and write your name.
Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site is a publicly owned property in Linn County, Missouri, maintained as a state historic site by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Getting to the bridge
Once you get to the parking area, it’s a 1/4 mile walk to the covered bridge.
First, you’ll cross a wooden walkway and Locust Creek.
Then, continue on a dirt and gravel road until you reach the bridge. This is an easy walk and the only time it might be a bit of a challenge is after a big rain. In that case, you’d be wise to wear rain boots.
There are multiple photo kiosks that describe the different trusses, history of Locust Creek bridge and covered bridges in Missouri.
The bridge is very picturesque although there is no longer any water under it as the creek channel has changed over time. Great photo ops and the bridge is in wonderful condition.
When you are there, make sure to look up. I was told there were bats inside the bridge, but during our visit, we didn’t see any.
Visiting the bridge from the time you part, will take less than an hour.
What are covered bridges?
Ancient Babylonians are credited with having built the first covered bridge over the Eurphrates River about 783 B.C. The bridges were also very popular in Medieval Europe but gained their height of popularity in America in the 19th century.
These bridges have a long history in America, and many are listed within the National Register for Historic Places.
Sometimes called “kissing bridges,” covered bridges can be found in over half of the United States. They were build to provide protection to both pedestrians and vehicles.
A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge that has both a roof and sides. The roof and siding can create either a completely enclosed, or almost enclosed structure.
The “truss” in a truss bridge refers to the architectural design of the bridge’s support beams and trusses typically form a series of triangles to provide support to a structure. Below is examples of the Howe-truss system used to build the Locust Creek covered bridge.
Why were the bridges covered in the midwest?
Most of America’s covered bridges were built between 1825 and 1875. By the 1870s, most bridges were covered at the time of construction and built to be sturdy long-lasting structures. The original reason for the cover was to protect the bridge’s trusses and decks from snow and rain, preventing decay and rot.
Uncovered wooden bridges typically have a lifespan of only 20 years because of the effects of rain and sun, but a covered bridge could last over 100 years. Once common, only about 1 in 10 covered bridges survived the 20th century.
Quick Locust covered bridge facts
- The Locust Creek Covered bridge opened in 1868.
- The total length of the bridge is 151 feet.
- It’s the longest of the four surviving covered bridges in Missouri.
- Location of the Locust Covered Bridge: Laclede, Missouri in Linn County.
- The bridge was built by Bishop & Eaton.
- The Locust Creek bridge is also called the Linn County Bridge.
- The site is managed by Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site.
Directions to LOCUST CREEK COVERED BRIDGE
Address: 16597 Dart Rd, Laclede, MO 64651
The Locust Creek Covered bridge is three miles west of Laclede and three miles east of Meadville off Route 36 in south-central Linn County. From Route 36, head north on Danube Drive for one mile, then head then east on Dart Road. Both Danube Drive and Dart Road are gravel roads.
Dart Road takes you to a small parking area and from there, it’s a quarter of a mile walk to the bridge.
Driving Time from Kansas City: About 106 Miles | 1.5 Hours
Directions to Locust Creek Covered Bridge from Kansas City:
I-70 W/US-71 N from to I-35 N tod MO-110/US-36 E (Route 36). Left on Danube Dr. Right on Dart Rd.
Driving Time from Kansas City: About 215 Miles | 3 Hours 20 Minutes
Directions to Locust Creek Covered Bridge from St. Louis:
I-64 W/US-40 W to US-61 N to State Hwy A. Left onto US-24 W/US-36 W (Route 36). Right on Danube Dr. Right on Dart Rd.
Plan on 30-60 minutes to visit the bridge from the time you park.
This is a must-visit stop for any Highway 36 road trip.