Landmarks of Monroe County  


Union County Covered Bridge

(5 miles west of Paris on U.S. 24 and 4 miles south on Hwy. C in Monroe County)

This covered bridge is the only surviving Missouri example of the Burr-arch truss system. Built in 1871 to span the Elk Fork of the Salt River, the bridge served travelers on the Paris-to-Fayette Road through Monroe County for 99 years. Located near Paris, the bridge is 120 feet long, 17 feet 6 inches wide, and has an entrance 12 feet high--just high enough to admit a wagon load of hay.

Covered truss bridges are composed of a roadway, braced on each side by a wooden truss and a roof. The purpose of the siding and roofing was to shield the truss work from the weather to ensure a longer lifetime, not to protect travelers from the weather.

Union Covered Bridge, built in 1871 by Joseph C. Elliott, is one of four standing covered bridges in Missouri and the only one left representing the "Burr-arch" construction. Elliott chose the Burr-arch truss design, using oak timbers, clapboard siding, and a roof of wooden shingles. This structure was the first covered bridge structure on the site; two earlier, uncovered spans succumbed to deterioration.

Named after the nearby Union Church, the bridge served travelers in Monroe County for 99 years and remains an important structure in the area's history. It served not only as a bridge but also as a local landmark, emergency shelter, and signboard. In 1968, the bridge was partially restored using materials from the Mexico Covered Bridge, which had been destroyed by floods in 1967. Two years later, the bridge was closed to all but pedestrian traffic after overweight trucks damaged its structural timbers; that same year it was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988, total restoration of the bridge was undertaken in order to return it to its original condition.

Type of construction used for Union Bridge

Quick Facts
Bridge Name : Union Bridge
Location : SW of Paris off CR C
Waters it crosses : Elk Fork of Salt River
of Span :
Length of
the Bridge :
Construction Date : Built in 1871
Type of Truss : Burr arch
Direction to
get there :
5.4 miles west of jct MO 15 on US 24 then left 3.5 miles on CR C and right 0.3 mile on unnamed road to the bridge
Links about the bridge

Missouri State Department of Transportation

Missouri State Parks

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

 Graphics courtesy of Rhiossampler