The Beaverkill Covered Bridge is one of four covered bridges still standing in Sullivan County.
It is owned by the Town of Rockland and maintained by the county and carries traffic across the Beaver Kill.
Built by John Davidson in 1865, this 98-foot-long, single span structure incorporates the Town lattice truss design patented on January 28, 1820, and again in 1835 by Ithiel Town of New Haven, Connecticut. The Beaverkill Covered Bridge is very similar in dimensions and design to other bridges in the Catskill region, all of which feature buttresses. The Beaverkill has four such buttresses on each side and is one of five covered bridges in New York State that has a timber approach.
The Beaverkill Covered Bridge was an early step in bringing civilization to a remote area that had remained mostly unsettled well into the 19th century. For much of the early 19th century northern Sullivan County remained largely unsettled, partly due to ongoing land title disputes from the Hardenburgh Patent and partly due to its ruggedness and shortage of arable land. Only loggers, hunters and trappers ventured into the remote valley of the Beaverkill above its confluence with Willowemoc Creek via an 1815 road. A tannery was established near the bridge site in 1832, processing the bark of the abundant Eastern Hemlock trees in the region into tanning for the leather industry. The small hamlet of Beaverkill grew up around it, and several other tanneries followed.
Along with a century-old iron bridge nearby, the Beaverkill Covered Bridge is the only crossing into the rest of the town and county for the residents on the river’s north side. Both are regarded as structurally deficient for modern traffic and have reduced load limits that may preclude their use by heavier service and emergency vehicles. In 2000, the state studied what it could do to address that problem. Eight years later the bridge was closed for repairs, requiring a three mile detour via Craigie Clair Road. A $72,000 federal grant the following year, 2009, was meant for further repairs.
Due to constant damage from oversized trucks, Sullivan County constructed what we call “headache bars” to prevent trucks from doing damage to the bridge. Although very unsightly, they have assisted in preserving the bridge. Sullivan County is to be commended for its efforts in preserving their covered bridges.