August 13, 2012
Don Naimoli, 610-783-1777
Beginning the week of August 20th, 2012, the Knox Covered Bridge on Yellow Springs Road will be closed for approximately 2 weeks to undergo much needed maintenance and a fresh coat of paint.
For The Friends of Valley Forge Park, getting someone to paint the bridge was the easy part. Over 4 years ago, Kevin Nolan of Nolan Painting Company agreed to paint the bridge for free as a community service. However, getting the bridge cleaned and prepared for paint was another matter.
Due to the exceptional value designation of the Valley Creek that flows beneath the bridge, flaking paint, concern over lead paint and the economy, all contributed to a four year plus period of meetings with PennDot, the owner of the bridge.
At long last, I am happy to report that the work has begun with Nolan Painting giving the new wood to be installed a complete coat of primer and a finish coat. When the outer skin of the bridge is removed by PennDot's sub-contractor, J D Eckman, Inc., Nolan Painting will prepare and paint the bridge support structure. Following that, the bridge will be recovered by Eckman and Nolan will take care of any touch ups.
The Friends of Valley Forge, the National Park Service, Tredyffrin Township and the entire community are indebted to Kevin Nolan and his company, Nolan Painting. Through all the years of delay, he has remained steadfast in his commitment to paint the bridge as a community project. Thank you Kevin! We also wish to thank Sherwin Williams for their donation of the best quality paint available for the project.
A History of the Knox Covered Bridge
Originally built in 1851 at a cost of $843, its span was 50 feet. The bridge was made of white pine, light in weight and resistant to worms and weather.
Like other covered bridges, it was covered for protection from the weather, to keep off the rain, snow and sun. The superstructure over the bridge kept water out of the joints, where it might freeze during the winter or cause rotting in the summer, and also kept the bridge from drying.
The 1851 bridge was washed away in 1865 by a flood. A replacement was built that year at a cost of $1,179. With slightly longer a 65-foot span.
In 1958 the bridge was damaged by fire. When it was rebuilt by the State, steel girders were added to reinforce and strengthen it.
For many years the bridge was known as the Valley Forge Dam Bridge. In the 19th century there were a number of mills and factories along The Valley Creek with a dam near what is now Route 23 providing water power for their operation. The lake formed by the dam was a "very pretty body of water" but with the water level only a foot or so below the road, it also caused flooding from time to time.
Today the bridge is usually identified as the Knox Bridge - though there is some disagreement over which Knox its name is taken; Senator Philander C. Knox or General Henry Knox. It seems more probable that it took its name from the former. In 1903 he purchased 256 acres of land adjacent to the bridge and moved into the old farm house west of the bridge that had been the quarters of General William Maxwell during the Valley Forge encampment. He was an attorney and prominent in the Republican party in the early years of the 20th century, serving as Attorney General under President Theodore Roosevelt and as the Secretary of State in the cabinet of President William Howard Taft. He also served two terms as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania.
The suggestion that the bridge may have been named for General Henry Knox stems from the fact that, during the Valley Forge encampment, the 300-pound commander of the Continental artillery had his quarters in the old farm house to the east of the bridge.