George Johnson

Builder of the Gilpin Falls Covered Bridge, Joseph G. Johnson.

Q: Could you provide any information on George Johnson, the builder of the covered bridge?

— Barry Stoltfutz

A: 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.

— Mike Dixon

Do you have a question about Cecil County that the Historical Society of Cecil County’s panel of experts might be able to answer? Send them to history@cecilwhig.com.

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