Harrisburg Covered Bridge

The Harrisburg Covered Bridge in Sevier County, located just off Old State Highway 35, spans the East Fork of the Little Pigeon River.

The Harrisburg community has maintained a bridge at this locale since the mid-1800s. Once known as the McNutts Bridge before washing away in 1875, and committee was formed by the county and local citizens contributed to its replacement. The Harrisburg community provided the wood and labor for the replacement structure. The county donated $25 and $50 was raised privately.

Elbert Stephenson Early was hired by the county to build a covered bridge as several members of his family moved to the Harrisburg area of Sevier County in the 1870s. Many of them were skilled carpenters, millwrights, and engineers. They built Murphy Chapel and several residences in the area. In 1877, Elbert Early purchased half interest in the Newport Mill, adjacent to the Harrisburg Covered Bridge.

In the late 1800s, the Harrisburg community grew, and with its several mills, blacksmith shops, a school, a doctor, and a post office, prospered. However, in 1915 the county built a new road that bypassed Harrisburg and the community disappeared.

Over the years, Sevier County has actively maintained the bridge, keeping it open for traffic as many other covered bridges were replaced. In 1952, Bill Baker and a county road crew stabilized the bridge which included the placement of a concrete pier at the center of the truss. As a result, this span functioned as two timber stringers. By the 1970s, the bridge was deteriorated and facing possible demolition when the Great Smokies Chapter and the Spencer Clack Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) raised funds to repair and maintain the bridge as well as seeking listing for it on the National Register of Historic Places. The Harrisburg Covered Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 for its significance as a rare surviving example of a covered timber truss bridge.

In 1983, the bridge had deteriorated and faced closure, but the county renovated the bridge with new flooring and replaced some of the timber beams, allowing the bridge to remain open but posted it with a 3-ton weight limit.

Through a grant from the National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation Program, Sevier County rehabilitated the Harrisburg Covered Bridge, extensively repairing the bridge in 2004. It was reopened for traffic, with a 15-ton weight limit later that same year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.