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Darlene’s giving away two books today. Wild West Christmas and Beacon of Love. We’ll draw a winner at the end of the day.
The first covered bridge in America was built over the Schuylkill River in Pennsylvania in 1805. The idea caught on, and soon covered bridges abounded. The barn-like design appealed to farmers for their familiarity and for the ease they offered horses afraid of rushing water beneath. Their most practical feature, of course, was protecting the wooden trusses from the elements. Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane (from 1805) provides detailed instruction on how to build a covered bridge for anyone interested.
The bridges became known as “kissing bridges”—with a long bridge, a slow horse, and a willing girl, suitors could steal two kisses during the crossing. Is it any wonder that I chose a covered bridge to tie together my Vermont historical series for Heartsong Presents?
Covered bridges served as a public billboard and gathering place—not to mention a great place to hide weapons. Militias drilled on bridges; bootleggers hid their whiskey there. Communities gathered for square dances in the shade of a bridge.
The earliest authenticated covered bridge in Vermont dates from 1824. Now Vermont has more of them per square mile still in existence than any other state: 107. Pennsylvania has the most total bridges.
Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin finds much of the inspiration for her stories in her native New England, although she now lives in cowboy country, Oklahoma. The first of her Vermont romances, Prodigal Patriot, will be published next May by the Heartsong Presents bookclub. Her most recent titles are Lucy Ames, Sharpshooter in A Wild West Christmas and Beacon of Love, a story inspired by the the Point Judith lighthouse in Rhode Island during the great gale of 1816.