A favorite spot in Specktown, Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, to take a group photo, was the Specktown Covered Bridge, which was a short walking distance from the Riegle-Dietrich Homestead. However, very few of these photos have survived.
This photo, from about 1942, was taken by William “Bill” Dietrich, the unofficial “Mayor of Specktown.” In the original photo (but cropped out here), Bill’s shadow can be seen in the road as the sun was behind him as he took the picture. Note the rocks piled at the corner bridge support on which the two women are sitting. The bridge was narrow and there were often accidents when two cars or horse-drawn carriages/wagons attempted to cross in opposite directions. The rocks saved the bridge, but not the vehicles. Another thing about this bridge was the approach to it from the west side; it was at the end of a very sharp “s” curve in which visibility was almost nil. Stopping and “honking” was not only courteous, but a necessity in order to cross safely – and, one vehicle at a time was the best way to proceed.
Left to Right (standing and sitting): Norman Gasbarro Sr.; Helen [Hoffman] Dietrich; Kathryn [Dietrich] Gasbarro; Melva Sitlinger.
There is a great deal of local legend and lore associated with this covered bridge. Several years before she died in 2003, Kathryn [Dietrich] Gasbarro gathered memories from family and wrote down quite a few of the stories and sent them to a local historical society where she assumed that they would be preserved and re-told as she remembered them. A copy of the above photograph was also supplied to that local historical society. It is not known what happened to those letters or the picture, but nothing was published during her lifetime. Questions about her recollections and the photograph were met with blank stares in 2010 by the person to whom she supposedly sent the information.
Hopefully, much of what she remembered can be accurately reconstructed by family members and will be reported here as time permits.
The time that this bridge was constructed has not been found as of this writing, but it surely dates to the 19th century. It appears from the photograph that this bridge was of the type designed by Theodore Burr, a double-arch structure in which the arches rested on abutments on either side of the stream, and to which a king-post structure was added for additional strength. The bridge was demolished at about the same time improvements to Specktown Road were made in the late 1940s and the “s” curve was eliminated by cutting through the Riegle-Dietrich homestead.
Corrections and additional information should be added as comments to this post.