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Sachs Bridge vandalism not a new problem, official says

Written by Geena L. Goozdich, The Evening Sun | Jul 25, 2016 8:00 PM
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Photo: Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun

(Undated) -- A lewd message spray-painted in bright orange on the floor of the Sachs Covered Bridge this week has left some locals and visitors exasperated about what they feel is a lack of respect for historic landmarks.

Cumberland Township police found the message after they received a call early Wednesday morning reporting vandalism in the area of the bridge. As of Friday, they had not yet determined who wrote the message, which, despite efforts to start removing it, still left the structure noticeably damaged Friday.

The Sachs Covered Bridge, also known as the Sauck's Covered Bridge, is an Adams County-owned landmark built in 1854, according to PaCoveredBridges.com. At 100 feet long and 15 feet wide, it is only open to foot traffic.

It was reportedly used by a portion of the Confederate army in retreat out of Gettysburg, as well as by the Union army during the battle.

Jim Hoffman, a retired National Guardsman, and his wife, Vicky, lamented the state of the bridge during a visit to the landmark Friday. Although apparent attempts to remove the vandalism left the message illegible, scratches of orange paint still peered through the porous wood, creating a palpable contrast to the authentic surface.

The Hoffmans said they love to visit historic sites, and Gettysburg is one of their favorite spots. The couple was discouraged by the news of the recent vandalism.

"It's a shame the way society is with destroying things. If it isn't graveyards, it's something else,"  Vicky Hoffman said.

Randy Phiel, Adams County commissioner and former ranger with the National Park Services, said that despite the bridge's "beauty and historic integrity," vandalism and other crimes have been going on there for as long as he can remember.

"Since I was a teenager, the bridge was a place where folks during the day would go for a picnic or go fishing," he said. "But at nighttime, there has been a history of vandalism and drug activity, among other things."

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Messages have typically covered the sides of Sachs Covered Bridge over the years but Cumberland Township Police are investigating recent spray paint vandalism on the floor of the bridge. (Photo: Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun)

Cumberland Township police cited three people near the bridge Wednesday morning on charges unrelated to the vandalism. James Allen Reese, 24 and Ian Jacob Cole, 25 of Hanover were both cited for public drunkenness, and a third man, Aaron Hamilton, 26, of Gettysburg, was cited for trespass by motor vehicle while operating privileges were suspended.

Phiel believes adding "dusk to dawn lighting" to the area around the bridge could help discourage future crimes.

"I am sure that lighting will not be the answer to all of the issues, but it seems it will have some value," Phiel said.

Both Cumberland and Freedom township police departments have also discussed allowing one another to enforce regulations on either side of the bridge, Phiel added.

"The bottom line is we must take some measures to ensure this iconic and historic county landmark is protected and preserved for future generations - and we will," he said.

Police are still investigating this week's vandalism. Anyone with information can call Cumberland Township Police department at 717-334-8101.

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A sign near Sachs Covered Bridge displays a warning to potential vandals on Thursday July 21, 2016. (Photo: Shane Dunlap, The Evening Sun)


This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between The Evening Sun and WITF. 

Published in Adams County, News

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