Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and nowhere is that more evident than in the incredibly creative and unique designs that criss-cross Maryland’s watery channels. These crossings have become part of Maryland's scenery and history; instead of being just a way to get to your destination, make them a part of your journey, or even an excursion all their own.
The Covered Bridges of Maryland
Sometimes called "romantic shelters" or "kissing bridges," these bridges, roofed to protect the wooden supporting trusses from the elements, were often the scene of a kiss between courting couples while crossing. Today, the bridges serve as portals to a simpler time, steeped in history and set within picturesque surroundings.
In 1865, Jericho Covered Bridge was built to span the Little Gunpowder Falls to connect Baltimore and Harford counties. Recently restored to like-new condition, it’s nestled in the woods of the Gunpowder Falls State Park, so it’s a perfect stop along a drive through this lush park—don’t forget to take pictures of the scenery along the way.
Three covered bridges are in Frederick County: Roddy Road near Thurmont, the smallest covered bridge still existing in Maryland; Loys Station north of Creagerstown, modified and rebuilt after the first fell victim to arson, though the original timbers remain; and the Utica Mills bridge in Frederick which incorporates a span of the original Devilbiss Road Covered Bridge that washed away during 1889 flooding. All three are in close proximity to one another northeast of Frederick, making a tour of them a short and easy outing from the bustling city.
Cecil County is home to the remaining two, both built in 1860: Gilpin’s Falls in Bay View, the longest covered bridge still standing in Maryland, located near the charming waterfront town of North East; and Foxcatcher Farms in the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area that’s also home to horse races and festivals.
Take in Scenic Views from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Signaling the start of many a family vacation, Maryland’s “Bay Bridge” is more than just the gateway to the state’s Eastern Shore. Officially named the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bay Bridge, Maryland’s most famous bridge is actually comprised of two bridges that, at just over four miles in length, are the longest bridges in the state. Crossing either bridge resembles taking a helicopter ride across the Bay, with scenic views of Sandy Point State Park, Kent Island, the wide expanse of the Bay to the south, and even Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse in the Bay to the north.
Railroad Viaducts and Historic Bridges
Railfans and history buffs will particularly appreciate two impressive viaducts originally built for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Built in 1835, the impressive stone-arched Thomas Viaduct was one of the earliest large bridges of any kind in the U.S. and still carries passenger and freight trains daily over the Patapsco River and the western entrance to Patapsco State Park in Elkridge. The Carrollton Viaduct, a soaring 80-foot stone arch railroad bridge located near a park and golf course in southwest Baltimore City, was built in 1829 as part of the first two miles of the B&O—the first intercity railroad in the United States—and is the oldest railroad bridge still in use in the world.
The oldest known bridge surviving in Maryland is the Parkton Stone Arch Bridge, a humble 37-foot-long structure nestled in a tiny and tranquil small town center in Baltimore County, built in 1809 as one of five made for the Baltimore and York-Town Turnpike.
Adding to the list of superlatives, the Casselman River Bridge's 80-foot single stone arch was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the nation when built in 1813 and was used until 1933; today it is preserved in its own four-acre roadside state park in Garrett County and is a great way to take a quick, scenic respite from driving through the Appalachians.
Enjoy the Water Views with a Ferry Ride
For true nostalgic charm, cross Maryland’s waterways on one of the state’s remaining ferries. The Oxford-Bellevue Ferry crosses the Tred Avon River, and is the oldest privately-operated ferry route in the nation, dating back to 1683. The historic White's Ferry which travels between Dickerson, Maryland and just north of Leesburg, Virginia, is the only ferry still operating on the Potomac River. And the Whitehaven Ferry and Upper Ferry cross the Wicomico River, providing views of the rural tidewater country southwest of Salisbury.