This Covered Bridge in South Dakota Will Transport You Back In Time
The American landscape was once full of covered bridges. By the 1870s, most new bridges were built covered. Covers kept the snow off the bridge in winter and prevented horses from getting spooked by the water. They also lasted longer. A wooden bridge without a cover had a lifespan of about 20 years, but a covered bridge could last 100 years.
At one time, America had 12,000 covered bridges. But today, most of these have been replaced with concrete and steel bridges. However, a few of these picturesque reminders of America’s past remain. The only covered bridge in the state of South Dakota is a hidden gem that will transport you back in time.
What is South Dakota’s Only Covered Bridge?
The small town of Edgemont, located in the southern Black Hills, is home to the state’s only public covered bridge, the Edgemont City Park Covered Bridge.
The pedestrian bridge is 120 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 8 feet high. Made of Douglas fir, the bridge is a popular tourist attraction for downtown Edgemont. In addition to the charming bridge, the park includes plenty of family-friendly activities such as picnic areas, a playground, historical markers, and an old trail car. The park is also the trailhead of the 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail, a historical path for cyclists, hikers, and horseback riders.
History of the Edgemont City Covered Bridge
The covered bridge was first built in the 1890s to connect two sides of the park across a pond. However, the arched, wooden bridge deteriorated over time and had to be removed. A new open bridge replaced the covered bridge in the 1960s. It became a favorite fishing spot for locals. However, over the years, it also fell into disrepair and had to be taken down.
A little over ten years ago, residents of Edgemont remembered their old bridge and began a fundraising campaign to rebuild it. In 2011, the new covered bridge that crosses the pond today, linking the park, was completed.
Unlike the original bridge, this one has concrete abutments that stand above the water. The historical society says the town of Edgemont can expect this bridge to stand for 100 years, much longer than the 10 to 20-year lifespan of an uncovered bridge. The Edgemont City Covered Bridge is thought to be the only covered bridge in the northern Great Plains.
Where is Edgemont City Park Covered Bridge on a Map?
Edgemont is in the southwest corner of South Dakota, about 80 minutes southwest of Rapid City. The park and bridge are located off Second Avenue in the downtown area.
Other Things to Do In and Around Edgemont
Edgemont sits at the edge of the Black Hills. With its two campgrounds, it can be a convenient base camp for those looking to explore the rugged mountainous area.
Trails, Trains and Pioneers Museum
A short walk from Edgemont City Park is the historical Trails, Trains, and Pioneers Museum. Owned by the Edgemont Area Historical Society, the museum offers a glimpse of the southern Black Hills dating back from the present to prehistoric times.
Ghost Town of Ardmore
About 30 minutes to the south of Edgemont is the old ghost town of Ardmore. Founded in 1889 as a railroad stop, today it’s full of abandoned buildings. Visiting Ardmore offers a peak into the past of the old boom towns of the 1800s.
Less than 30 minutes east of Edgemont is a natural swimming hole fed by natural hot spring water. The area is off Highway 71, near the town of Hot Springs. Although not technically a hot spring, it’s a bit warmer than your average South Dakota creek.
The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs
In the nearby town of Hot Springs, is an active paleontological dig site where visitors can view Ice Age fossils. The site is a 26,000-year-old now dry sinkhole.
Some of the specimens include:
- North American Columbian mammoth
- Woolly mammoths
- Giant short-faced bears
- Prairie dogs
- Imprint fossils of mollusks, bird feathers, and fish skeletons
Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
At the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, America’s wild horses have the space to roam free. Some of the horse breeds include American Mustangs, Spanish, and Choctaw Indian. Note that tours to see the wild horses up close are expensive and offered on a limited basis only.