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One Tank Trip: Covered bridge tour

There are 200 covered bridges left in Pennsylvania, and about a dozen of them are located in Bucks County, almost all of them being off the beaten path.

"For the most part, covered bridges are on less traveled roads, so you get off the superhighway. You get to go down sometimes dirt covered roads, but mostly small country roads over small streams, and you really get to appreciate the beauty of nature," said Jeffrey Marshall, president of the Heritage Conservancy.

Visit Bucks County has made it easy. The website gives you turn by turn directions to get from covered bridge to covered bridge, and you learn a little about each one along the way.

A covered bridge is a system of trusses. Simply put, it's a structure that is housed.

"If you look into the bridge, you can see a series of diagonal lattice work. That's the hallmark of the town truss," Marshall said.

It is also the mark of almost all the covered bridges in Bucks County.

"For most of the ones we've seen now, they are painted. This barn red and white," Marshall explained. "White so people see it, so originally, I don't think it was the color scheme, but then in 1870, you weren't driving down the road at 70 miles an hour, so you would approach it more slowly."

Sometimes, the stories about the covered bridges are a little spooky, and the Van Sant Bridge is no exception. It's also known as the Cry Baby Bridge.

"Some of this is probably urban legend, but it makes for a good story," said Paul Bencivengo, vice president, Visit Bucks County. "So, they say it's haunted, and at nighttime you can hear a baby crying."

There are two theories. One is the mother jumped off with her child. The second theory is the mother was murdered by her husband.

Stories like that add intrigue to the beauty and leave you wondering why they were built in the first place.

There are a few common ideas. They look like barns, so animals aren't afraid to cross them. They keep off the snow and rain. They are a safe haven in a storm.
But the most popular idea?

"And my favorite is it's a place where you can go kiss your girlfriend," Marshall explaied. "All of those were probably important, but that's not the reason. The main reason they were built is that they lasted longer with the roof on top. Functionality."

But the romantic notion is rather nice.

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