In Lancaster County, in Caernarvon Township, in April 1858, sixty-two citizens signed a petition requesting that Lancaster County build a bridge over the Conestoga Creek near Poole Forge. One of the signers of the petition was Isaac O. Blight, who had been the owner of Poole Forge since 1854. He lived in the mansion with his wife Matilda and one child, William. Another child, Matilda was born in 1859. In the 1860 census, they had two children, William, 5 years old and Matilda, 1 year old. Two domestics living with them were Catherine and Sarah Grish.
In April of 1858, the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County appointed Henry Roland, Solomon Diller, and Henry Yundt to view the place proposed for a bridge where the "Downingtown and Ephrata turnpike" cross the Conestoga Creek at Pool Forge in Caernarvon Township in Lancaster County. The court required that "public notice of the time and place of the meeting of the viewers be given by advertisements put up in three or more of the most public places in the vicinity at least ten days before the meeting; - and by a Rule of the Court, the proof of the notice shall be in writing."
On June 8, 1858, Justice of the Peace, Levi Ringwalt and Hanson B. Jacobs signed an affirmation for the proposal for the erection of a bridge. The affirmation stated that four notices had been posted at Ringwalt's store, Hollinger's Black Smith Shop, in Beartown, and Churchtown "at least twelve days" before the time of a meeting for all persons interested in the erection of bridge. The meeting was scheduled for 9 o'clock a.m. , June 10, 1858, when all persons interested in the erection of a bridge could attend, "if they see proper."
The three viewers, Roland, Diller, and Yundt, recommended that "in view of danger of fire from sparks from said forge, said bridge be made without a roof", and that the location of the bridge be eighty-nine feet from the south corner of the Pool Forge Coal House."
On May 16, 1859, Levi Fink signed a contract to build the bridge for "Twelve hundred nineteen dollars."
On August 23, Levi Fink wrote to the Court of Quarter Sessions requesting that he had lately erected by contract with the County Commissioners a bridge over the Conestoga Creek near Pool Forge in Caernarvon Township. He prays the board to appoint proper persons to view and inspect it, and make report of their proceedings to this court.
The court appointed three men, Andrew Robinson, David Styer, and Henry Voneida, to view and inspect the erection of Poole Forge Bridge and report their findings to the Court. If any two of the viewers agree that the bridge is erected in all things in accordance to law, they are to give notice to one or more of the commissioners, or a copy of such notice at the dwelling house of one of the commissioners. The three men appointed by the Honorable Judges of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of Lancaster County state that they, having viewed and examined the bridge, are of the opinion that the bridge is completed in a substantial and workmanlike manner according to the contract. This document was signed by Andrew Robinson, David Styer, and Henry Voneida on September 27, 1859.
The bridge is 99 feet long and 15 feet wide, a Burr-Truss type, typical of Pennsylvania covered bridges. This truss was developed by Theodore Burr and patented in 1817. A group of bridge enthusiasts formed a society in 1959, calling their organization The Theodore Burr Covered Bridge Society. Although Levi Fink is on record as being the builder, inside the bridge, there is a very clearly engraved name of "Elias Mc Mellen, AD 1859." Perhaps we can assume that he worked on the bridge.
In October of 1889 Joseph Weaver proposed a list of repairs to the side walls and coping, using "pine boards", and finishing the listed repairs "in a neat and workmanlike manner for the sum of three hundred and forty seven and a half Dollars." His proposal was accepted by the Commissioners.
A repair bill was found from June 1916, stating that a new roof was built and five new boards, averaging 12 inches by 10 feet were placed on the sides. "Remarks: white-wash and trim trees." The bridge must have been white instead of red.
An article in the New Holland Clarion in November 1961 stated that the covered bridge would be transferred from the state to the county, then to the township, and ultimately to W. W. Wimer, the present owner, because the state planned to build "a modern bridge at a spot near Poole Forge bridge and change the location of a portion of the road."
In August, 1980, the Poole Forge Bridge was printed in the National Register of Historic Places with its legal description listed in the Lancaster County Courthouse, North Duke Street, Lancaster and its survey listed in the Pennsylvania Inventory of Historic Places, in the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The UTM: Zone 18 Owner: Lancaster County/Caernarvon Township Stream: Conestoga Creek Truss Type: Burr Builder: Levi Fink Year: 1859 End Post to End Post Length: 99 feet Width: 15 feet Condition: Fair Distinguishing Features: The Pool Forge Bridge is located just off of T773, carrying only foot traffic as the bridge has been bypassed. Its vertical plank siding reaches 3/4 of the way up the side walls, leaving an open window area under the eaves of its gabled roof.
In 2005, the bridge became the property of Caernarvon Township to be included in a park managed by Poole Forge, Inc. Several floor boards were replaced and electric sensor lights installed. The stone abutments were reinforced in August 2007. The Theodore Burr Society has been decorating the bridge with Christmas wreaths and colored lights each December since 2006.