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Foxcatcher Farms / Hill's Fording / Strahorn's Mill Covered Bridge

Foxcatcher Farms Photo Gallery
County World Guide # Crosses Built Truss Spans Length Coordinates Location
Cecil MD-07-02 Big Elk Creek 1860 Burr
1 80' N39°42'35"
Fair Hill. East on Telegraph Rd (RT273) from intersection with Lewisville Rd (RT213) for .6 mile to right on Entrance 3 Rd, left on Ranger Skinner Rd, left at Training Center Rd, .5 mile to Tawes Dr, 1.2 miles to bridge. Or go north on RT316, Appleton Road, from the intersection with RT273, to Black Bridge Road and follow to the bridge.

Strahorn's Mill / Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge Early Years

Foxcatcher Farms Bridge, earlier known as Strahorn's Mill Bridge, is one of only two remaining authentic covered bridges in Cecil County, Maryland. Both Foxcatcher Farms and Gilpin's Falls bridges were built in 1860, although by different builders. A petition was filed on February 9, 1858 for building a road between Upper and Lower Hill's Fording, near Jonathan Strahorn's Mill. The petition included the building of a bridge, but was set aside at that time. It resurfaced two years later on February 15, 1860. An advertisement for bids to build a bridge near Strahorn's Mill appeared in both the Cecil Democrat and Cecil Whig on June 9, 1860. The contract called for a bridge over Big Elk Creek of the "Burr or Canal" plan, covered and to span 65 feet and have a width of 16 feet, out to out." Ten days later the contract was awarded to Ferdinand Wood for a cost of $1,165 and it called for the bridge to be built of the "Old Burr plan." (Click here to see the detailed specifications for building Foxcatcher Farms Bridge.)The bridge was near completion by December 15, 1860 when the Cecil Whig reported that "Mr. Ferdinand Wood, who has built a number of excellent bridges in the county, is also about completing a new bridge over Big Elk, at Hill's Fording, the cost of which is $1,165." It is likely the bridge was completed by the end of the year or very early in 1861.
In 1877 the property was occupied by Jonathan Strahorn, his son Albert R. Strahorn, and J.Z. Finley. Strahorn's Mill was originally a Nail Factory, then a Grist Mill, Turning Mill and a Tan Bark Yard. Not much is known about the mill or the property between 1877 and 1927.

William duPont, Jr. Purchases Strahorn's Property

Foxcatcher 2008In 1927 William duPont, Jr. bought a vast amount of land in the northeast corner of Maryland including the area where the covered bridge existed. Mr. duPont raised cattle, raced horses, and hunted fox on his property, hence the bridge and property became known as "Foxcatcher Farms." Because the bridge was on private property it became inaccessible to most covered bridge enthusiasts.
Strahorn's Bridge or Foxcatcher Farms Bridge stood tall during the Cecil County floods of 1884, 1887 and 1898 while many other bridges were lost, including iron bridges. Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge was damaged in 1938 by a truck crossing the bridge with a load of silo boards which extended beyond the truck bed. Mr. C.B. Lawrence, a covered bridge enthusiast and historian details how the accident happended from accounts of Mr. Howard Skinner, an area resident. (Mr. Lawrence's writings provided much of the material written earlier on this page.) "The truck was saved from going into the creek, when it's wheels broke through the bridge deck planks. The overhanging silo boards caught on the northwest abutment and held the truck on the bridge cross chord timbers as the wheels went through the old deck planks." Mr. Skinner also remembers an accident in 1950 "when a concrete truck crossing the bridge broke through the deck on the southeast end and went into the creek." In both cases the bridge was repaired.

State of Maryland Purchases duPont Estates.

The State of Maryland bought the duPont Estates property in 1975 and later established it as the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. Today the area provides recreation for equestrians, fishermen, hunters and bird watchers. It also includes fairgrounds and a race track and was a training center for 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.

Reconstruction of Foxcatcher Farms Bridge in 1992

Age took its normal toll on Foxcatcher Farm Bridge. In late 1991, the Department of Natural Resources contracted Erik Straub of Cambridge, Maryland to reconstruct the bridge. Mr. Lawrence reports on the reconstruction: "Mr. Straub closed the bridge on March 12, 1992, underpinned and supported the roof on steel girders and timber false work, while he constructed new trusses, deck support system, and put the bridge into a new condition under the old roof. He saved some old Kingpost splices, and original Burr Arch chord timbers, which he reused on the bridge's interior giving it an antique authentic look. He thus uniquely saved the covered bridge's aesthetic appearance." (Click here to see the details of the rebuilding of Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge in 1992.)
The bridge reconstruction cost totalled $152,000. The engineers estimated 60% of the structural members were replaced, although the bridge still maintains its original World Guide Number. Normally, a bridge with this much truss replacement would be considered a new bridge. The bridge would be known as Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge, MD-07-02 #2.
The bridge was reopened in September of 1992. The siding was not installed until later that fall. In 1994 it received the State's Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Award. Hurricane Floyd damaged its lower sideboards in 1999, but the bridge was quickly repaired. Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge is open only for horseback riding, bicyclists and hikers. It is well-maintained by the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.

UPDATED: 6/28/2010, much more specific information about the early years of the bridge, confirmation of year completed, more information about 1992 rehabilitation.
Bridge Specifications
Bridge Name: Foxcatcher Farms Length at Center: 80'-2" Height to Peak: Approximately 15'-2" SE end; Approximately 15'-2" NW end
Alternate Name(s): Foxcatcher, Foxcatchers Width Roadway: 12'-0" SE end; 12'-0" NW end Maximum Height at Portal Entrance: Approximately 12'-8" SE end; Approximately 12'-8" NW end
Alignment: SE to NW Width Portal Opening: 14'-0" SE end; 14'-0" NW end Posted Height Restriction: None (Bridge open only to pedestrians and Fair Hill Natural Resource Center vehicles)
Distance Above Water (variable): 9'-0" Width Outside Dimensions: 16'-0" SE end; 15'-10" NW end Roof Overhang-Side: Approximately 1'-0" each side
Panels: 6 each side Posted Weight Restriction: 3 tons Roof Overhang-Ends: Approximately 1'-0" each end

Maryland Covered Bridges
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