Cecil County got its money worth out of the bridge crossing the North East Creek, about a mile north of Bay View. Built at the top of the 1860s to give farmers and residents of that area access to North East, the centuries old covered bridge has stood the test of time, struggling against floods, centuries of aging, and a lack of concern about the preservation of the past.
Since the area was growing as the nation edged toward the Civil War, a span across the waterway was important to improve travel and commerce in the area. So the commissioners advertised for a contractor to build one across the creek. After the work was completed the public treasury handed over $2,000. That valued Cecil County relic, spanning time and the stream, still survives in the 21st century.
The master bridge builder who undertook the project was Joseph George Johnson. A widely known contractor, he was born in Cecil County in 1830. During his lifetime he built Elkton’s first water works and a number of stations for the Western Maryland Railroad. In 1860, when the county commissioners advertised to build a covered bridge at Gilpin Falls, he won the contract. In the later years of his life, he went to Baltimore where he managed the Walbrook Coal and Supply Company.
The county awarded at least three additional contracts to Johnson. In June 1860, he was hired to build the Reynolds Bridge in the northeastern part of the county at a cost of $450. in 1865 the contract for building the bridge at Mitchell’s Mill in Elkton was awarded for $3,460; and finally in August 1867 he built a bridge over Principio Creek at Whitaker’s Furnace for $2,950.
Although he died at his home in Baltimore in September 1900, the work of this master bridge builder, having stood the test of time, still stands as one of the few remaining covered bridges in Maryland, a state that once had many of them spanning streams and rivers.