About This Location
The Johnsonville Covered Bridge, situated in the charming town of East Haddam, Connecticut, stands as a testament to both the region's history and the craftsmanship of bridge construction. This beautiful covered bridge is a striking sight, featuring not only a covered roadway but also a sheltered walkway for pedestrians to enjoy.
Built in 1976, the Johnsonville Covered Bridge measures a total length of 60 feet as it gracefully spans the tranquil waters of the Moodus River. This bridge is more than just a structural marvel; it carries with it the echoes of Johnsonville Village's past, once a bustling mill community and tourist attraction that left an indelible mark on the landscape of East Haddam.
Kronenberger & Sons Restoration, a company with a strong connection to Johnsonville, played a pivotal role in bringing this covered bridge to life. In the 1960s, Tom Kronenberger Sr., the founder of KSR, was enlisted by Raymond Schmitt to undertake the relocation and reconstruction of antique buildings. This included the transport of a Victorian stable and chapel to the grounds of Johnsonville.
Construction of the Bicentennial Covered Bridge, as it is also known, began on July 1st, 1976, with the dedicated efforts of Thomas Kronenberger Sr. and a team of six skilled craftsmen. The bridge is a remarkable fusion of arch trusses and king post trusses, which are two traditional methods of historic bridge building. The main trusses were constructed on solid ground and then carefully hoisted into place using a crane, a feat that showcases the precision and artistry of the builders.
The construction materials used for this remarkable bridge reflect its commitment to history. Framing timbers were sourced from Charles Parker Co. in Meriden, while the exterior covering was crafted from historic lumber found near the bridge site. In the end, the bridge incorporated five different species of wood, creating a visually captivating blend of natural textures.
One distinguishing feature of the Johnsonville Covered Bridge is its dual openings at each end. This design accommodates both carriages and pedestrians, a feature not commonly found in traditional covered bridges.
The history of Johnsonville Village is a fascinating tale that adds depth to the legacy of this covered bridge. In the 1960s, Raymond Schmitt embarked on an extraordinary endeavor to create a Victorian village that included a church, residences, and various other structures, all furnished with antique treasures. This bridge was one of the remarkable additions to this collection, serving as a picturesque centerpiece for events such as weddings.
However, Johnsonville's story took a turn in the 1990s when disputes arose between Schmitt and the town, leading to a period of abandonment. The village, once a thriving community, stood still for many years, with no one to tend to the bridge or the other structures within.
In more recent years, Johnsonville Village found new ownership, as the international religious organization Iglesia Ni Cristo acquired the property for $1.85 million in July 2017. Their vision for the 62-acre site is to transform it into a recreational and sporting center for their members, showcasing how the legacy of this quaint covered bridge continues to evolve.
Although the Johnsonville Covered Bridge and the surrounding village property may currently be private, its striking presence can still be observed from the side of Leesville Road. For those intrigued by its history and charm, further research may reveal whether access to the bridge is possible, taking care to respect any "no trespassing" signs and property boundaries along the way.