It’s one of the only remaining covered bridges in America. And Travel and Leisure calls it one of the most beautiful.
Like going back in time, a visit to Campbell’s Covered Bridge crosses you over to a bygone era of dirt roads and horse-drawn wagons. At one point, there were four covered bridges in the state of South Carolina — all built to provide safe passage over water and shelter from harsh weather conditions you might meet along your journey.
Of the four bridges, only Campbell’s Covered Bridge remains today, located in an idyllic setting in Landrum, S.C.
Just like South Carolina’s covered bridges, the covered bridges across the U.S. have slowly disappeared, too. Today, Campbell’s Covered Bridge is also one of only 1,500 or so remaining covered bridges in America.
This picturesque South Carolina landmark has more to it than just rarity:
1. End of an Era
Campbell’s Covered Bridge was first built in 1909, in the last days before cars and state roads came to the rural extremities of Upstate South Carolina. Local builder Charles Willis designed the bridge.
2. Bridge Ices Before Road . . . or Not
The main reason to cover a bridge is that the roof protects the bridge deck from harsh weather elements. So in the long run, you’ll need to do much less maintenance.
Unlike concrete bridges today, a covered bridge usually will not ice over on the main deck.
3. Necessity, the Mother of Invention
Until Campbell’s Covered Bridge ridge was built, people, horses and wagons crossed the stream here — Beaverdam Creek — at a nearby shoal.
Later, a wooden, flat bridge was built across the ford before a 1908 flood washed it away.
4. Heavier than It Looks
All told, Campbell’s Covered Bridge weighs in at an estimated 100,000 pounds.
5. When Cutting Corners is Okay
In the early 20th century, the settlements in Greenville’s mountains needed better ways to get their agricultural products to market. This covered bridge turned a 25-mile, all-day trip for some into a trip that could be made in an hour instead.
6. Grist for Grinding
The “Campbell” that the bridge is named for is believed to be Alexander Campbell (1836 – 1920), a local grist mill operator, whose mill was located less than 100 feet away from the bridge.
Farmers would come from miles around to grind their grain at Campbell’s Mill in Landrum.
7. Preserved for History
Local land owner Sylvia Pittman sold the acreage around Campbell’s Covered Bridge to Greenville County in 2005 so it could be preserved as a historic site.
In 2009, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
8. Riding Roughshod
Campbell’s Covered Bridge starred in a scene in the ’70s B movie A Day of Judgement by horror filmmaker Earl Owensby. In the film, an avenging angel rides a horse over the span.
9. Quiet Recreation
Now maintained by Greenville County Recreation, the bridge and the land around it offer a quiet park to enjoy this historic structure and the nature around it.
Visitors to the area can also visit the foundations of Campbell’s grist mill and the later Smith house.
Campbell’s Covered Bridge today serves as a marker for a way of life that has long gone. No longer needed as a road, the bridge was closed to vehicles in the early 1980s.
But its bold, red-painted wood will stand out in our memories for a long time to come.