Created By: Sarah Mims
The first covered bridge in Chester County spanned the west branch of the Brandywine Creek in present day Northbrook. In 1807 when the bridge was constructed this area was part of West Bradford Township. Marshall's Bridge, as it would be called, was a Burr arch type bridge with a span of 98 feet and a roadway width of 16 feet. The bridge took it's name from the Marshall family who had settled the surrounding area from an original William Penn land grant. The bridge was initially constructed to allow for safe passage from the northern bank of the Brandwine Creek to Marshall's Mill beyond the southern bank of the creek. Up until the construction of the bridge, the Brandywine had to be forded downstream about 1/2 mile at Trimble's Ford. From the ford an early road (present day Brag Hill Road) carried travelers along the high ground and eventually down to the mill. With the new bridge a road between Marshallton to the north was connected to the industry on the south end of the bridge. That road (present day Northbrook Road) would be extended to the south into the fertile farm valley between present day Unionville and the Locust Grove area. In 1870 the Wilmington and Reading Railroad (later Wilmington and Northern) was constructed near the southern bank of the Brandywine in the area with a new railroad stop named Marshall's Station. By 1871 a US Post Office was set up at the railroad stop and the name for the area was changed to Northbrook. Marshall's Bridge stood until 1954, although it had been rebuilt several times due to storm and flood damage over it's 147 year duration. In the last decade of the covered bridge there was a weight restriction imposed on crossing traffic. In 1954 the covered bridge was replaced by the current open deck steel bridge, built on the original stone foundations. Throughout the history of bridges at that location the low lying area floods closing the roadway. The unfortunate fact that the stone approaches and raised one lane bridge deck block visibility of oncoming traffic has forced local residents to adapt by checking for approaching vehicles by looking across the flood plain on Northbrook Road before entering the bridge. This allows the current driver to realize a problem that our ancestors had accessing most bridges in the 19th century, albeit at a much slower rate of travel with horse and wagon. Turn onto Northbrook Road and cross the bridge and make the first left turn onto Brandywine Drive. Be careful of oncoming traffic as you enter the bridge.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Bridges of Chester County's Lower Brandywine Creek watershed