The John Bright Bridges

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge - Drive-by Bonus


John Bright #1 & #2 Bridges

1570 Granville Pike

Lancaster, OH 43130

"The journey not the arrival matters." ~ T.S. Eliot

The John Bright Bridges


Both the John Bright #1 and #2 bridges are located along the Fairfield Heritage Trail (Lancaster Bike Path). The bridges sit very close to each other and can be reached by parking at the Ohio University Lancaster parking lot.


John Bright #2 Covered Bridge


The John Bright #2 Bridge in Fairfield County at Ohio University Lancaster

  • Constructed in 1881

  • Built by Augustus Borneman & Sons

  • 75’ Span

  • Reverse bow string truss system

  • Currently spans Fetters Run at the Ohio University-Lancaster campus

  • Originally located on land owned by the Bright family

  • Sits on the Lancaster Bike Path

  • Gateway to the Lancaster Festival concerts

  • The total cost of the original bridge was $927.50






The John Bright #2 covered bridge was moved in April of 1988. It was moved approximately 12 miles from Poplar Creek to its current location at Ohio University Lancaster. The bridge was restored with the assistance of volunteers, local businesses and organizations, Ohio University Lancaster and Fairfield County. The restoration project was completed in 1990.


Approximately 450’ south of the John Bright #2 covered bridge sits the John Bright #1 Iron Bridge. Their names can be deceiving since the John Bridge #2 covered bridge was constructed before the John Bright #1 iron bridge.


John Bright #1 Iron Bridge

  • Constructed in 1883

  • Built by Augustus Borneman & Hocking Valley Bridge Works

  • 90’ Span

  • Almost identical structure to the John Bright #2 Covered Bridge

  • Currently spans Fetters Run at the Ohio University-Lancaster campus

  • Spanned Poplar Creek

  • Sits on the Lancaster Bike Path

  • Replaced Smith Mill Bridge

  • Gateway to the Lancaster Festival concerts

  • The total cost of original bridge was $1920.


Preservation of the John Bright Bridges

The John Bright bridges are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. John Bright #1 was added to the Register in 1978. John Bright #2 was added in 1975. The historical plaque on the John Bright #2 bridge was added on July 2014.


During the 1980s and 1990s, many of the historical bridges were put up for “adoption.” They were no longer fit to be used and needed to be replaced. However, Fairfield County Engineer Robert Reed did not want to see these historical bridges demolished.


Fairfield County Engineer Robert Reed’s efforts paid off and many of the bridges were “adopted” and moved. In 1988, Dean Ray Wilkes of Ohio University Lancaster read an article in the paper about the historical bridges. He contacted Reef about the possibly of adopting the John Bright #2 covered bridge.



Dean Ray Wilkes along with university staff, volunteers, community organizations and local businesses worked to relocate and restore the historic bridge. The restoration project took more than two years and cost over $15,000. The bridge was dedicated on October 28, 1988.


The John Bright #1 restoration was a much bigger project. In 1991, the bridge was disassembled and moved to the Ohio University Campus. Due to a lack of funds and the passing of Dean Wilkes, the project was put on hold in 1994. In 1996, the new University Dean, Charles Bird, worked with the Lancaster Festival to revive the restoration. A plan was developed, and they applied for an $87,000 grant. The grant was denied, so David Johns, a Festival Board Member, decided to try and get the community involved in the project. Thanks to many different businesses and volunteers, the project was finished in July of 1999. Sadly, David Johns passed away in 1998, before the project was completed. The funds that were needed to finish the project were donated by his family.



Fairfield County Ohio Covered Bridge Trail

Ohio is known for its covered bridges. At one point in time, Fairfield County had 279 timber truss bridges. This was more than any other county. Unfortunately, most of these no longer exist.

It is estimated that there are still 125 wooded covered bridges left in the state. Many of them have been relocated to private properties. Others are cared for by local parks departments. Out of the 125, 17 of these are in Fairfield County.

The 17 bridges are:

A map to these bridges can be found HERE.

If you are interested in visiting all the covered bridges in Fairfield County, keep an eye on the Visit Fairfield County website. Covered Bridge tours are very popular. There is usually a guided bus tour every year. We have also heard people talk about motorcycle tours and cyclist tours.


The Fairfield County Park District

The Fairfield County Park District currently has eight original bridges. Of those, 5 are open to the public.

The bridges operated by the Fairfield County Park District are:

Hannaway Covered Bridge (Open to the Public)

Hartman No. 2 Covered Bridge (Open to the Public)

Hummel Covered Bridge (Park is still under development as of 04/19/20)

Johnson Covered Bridge aka Johnston Covered Bridge (Open to the Public)

Mink Hollow Covered Bridge (Open to the Public)

Rock Mill Covered Bridge (Open to the Public)

Roley School Covered Bridge (Currently in Storage)

Shade Covered Bridge (Park is still under development as of April 2020)



What You Can Expect at John Bright #1 Iron Bridge / John Bright #2 Covered Bridge

Please note that trail rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Fairfield Heritage Trail as of September 2020.


John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

No bathrooms.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

The Fairfield Heritage Trail is great for bicycling.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

The Fairfield County Trail has several areas that are great for birding.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

The historical covered bridges



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

Concealed carry is not permitted at Ohio University Lancaster.


John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

Dogs are permitted on the trail if they are on a leash.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

Paved trail.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

Huge blacktop parking lot at the college and a blacktop parking lot on the opposite side of Fetters Run.

John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

No picnic tables on the trail.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

There is no playground.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

There are a few benches.

John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

A lot of sun on the trail.


John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

No shelter house.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

There was no trashcan available.

John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

Both bridges cross Fetters Run.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

Several ADA parking spots.



John Bright #1 Iron Bridge & John Bright #2 Covered Bridge at Ohio University Lancaster OUL

We have never seen the water deep enough to fish.




Locate the John Bright Bridges HERE



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