Filed Under Bridges

Everett Road Covered Bridge

Passing by the Everett Road Covered Bridge, you can still hear the shuffle of feet moving to a lively tune. Both young and old come together at the bridge to share in a tradition passed down from the Cuyahoga Valley's first settlers from New England: the contra dance. Several times a year, friends and neighbors gather together to dance at historic locations near the Village of Peninsula. One of the most popular settings, the Everett Road Covered Bridge, allows dancers to connect to a tradition deeply rooted in the valley experience. Incredibly popular during the early 20th century, dances offered young men and women the rare opportunity to enjoy entertainment together. A local orchestra played while a caller announced instructions for the dances, which took place in nearby dance halls, or even in the street. The modern use of the Everett Bridge evokes these historic traditions of engagement with the local community.

The Everett Road Covered Bridge, which crosses over Furnace Run, is the only remaining covered bridge in Summit County. To take advantage of the Ohio & Erie Canal, and later railroads, valley residents needed roads. According to valley legend, the Everett Bridge was built in response to a local tragedy. In 1877, farmers John Gilson and his wife supposedly attempted to cross Furnace Run after melting ice made their usual ford impassable. Although Mrs. Gilson survived the stream, John Gilson's horse pulled him into the icy water where he soon drowned. Although historians concluded that the bridge was constructed in the late 19th century, its actual construction date remains unknown.

Nestled deep within the valley, the Everett community witnessed many changes since its beginnings in the 1820s. Visitors to the village in the 19th and early 20th century could cross Furnace Run through the covered bridge and enter a small neighborhood complete with a blacksmith, church, one-room schoolhouse, general store, saloon, dance hall, and railway station. After the establishment of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Department of the Interior purchased and rehabilitated many properties in Everett. Despite the sense of loss that accompanied the demise of the lively Everett village, the Everett Road Covered Bridge and contra dance participants testify to the persistent sense of community in the valley.

Audio

History of the Contra Dance Rebecca Jones, interpretive ranger for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, talks about the history of the Contra Dance and how the dancing style received its name. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Dancing the Dance Park Ranger, and current Contra Dance participant, Rebecca Jones, describes the dancing style and its significance for the local community. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection
Dancing on the Covered Bridge Interpretive ranger Rebecca Jones describes the unique experience dancing on the Everett Covered Bridge. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Crossing Furnace Run The Everett Road Covered Bridge crosses Furnace Run, which connects to the Cuyahoga River from the west. During the 19th century, Ohio contained over 2,000 covered bridges, the most of any state. Photo by Tom Jones / Courtesy of the National Park Service.
Smith Truss Design The Everett Road Covered Bridge was built following the 1869 Smith Truss Design. Robert W. Smith, of Tipp City, Ohio, patented variations of his bridge design in 1867 and 1869 before forming the Smith Bridge Company. The Smith Truss Design included criss-crossing beams with a large open triangle at the bridge's center. The covered roof protected the beams from weather damage and extended the life of the bridge. Photo by Carolyn Conklin.
Time to Rebuild After flooding uprooted and destroyed the bridge in 1975, local residents and members of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association raised support and funds for its restoration. By 1986, the National Park Service completed the historically accurate reconstruction of the Everett Road Covered Bridge that stands today. Photo by Carolyn Conklin.
Learn the Contra Dance The contra dance originated in the British Isles and arrived in the Cuyahoga Valley via settlers from Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York. Similar to a square dance, couples face each other in two lines and follow the directions of the caller. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.
Community Dance Visitors to the National Park can see and participate in contra dances. North Coast Contra Community presents dances twice a month at sites in and around Peninsula. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Location

The covered bridge crosses Furnace Run off Everett Rd approx. 2 miles west of the intersection of Everett and Riverview Rds.

Metadata

Carolyn Zulandt, “Everett Road Covered Bridge,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 8, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/342.