The only indoor covered bridge in the nation was an accident. That isn’t to say that the bridge was unintentionally built. Rather, the bridge was an elegant solution to a mild problem. The bridge lies in Billville, Pennsylvania; a town that doesn’t exist according to most maps.
On the outskirts of Bloomsburg, Billville is minuscule. Consider Centralia, the famously abandoned mining town in Central Pennsylvania; the eleven-strong population of the flaming city grossly overshadows Billville, USA: Population: one (two if you count those on four legs).
On the far side of Billville, between the General Store and the Cobbler’s Shop, hangs a firehouse-red covered bridge. The bridge doesn’t span a stream or creek as they traditionally do, but rather a vintage car and a garage door rest underneath. The bridge connects the dentist’s office and the hair salon, both of which share a building with the other two stores.
The bridge looks out of place in the indoor town, but it serves a purpose. Bill’s forklift couldn’t fit through the garage door. However, if the garage had been made taller, it would collide with the second floor of Billville. Instead, Bill and his friends decided to build an archway, covering the sides with a mock wall and roof. The bridges’ windows overlook the mock town. It never snows, never rains, and vintage motorcycles line the streets in Billville. The buildings feature ironwork from medieval castles and artifacts from the 1939 World’s Fair, and it’s home to more phones than one will ever see in a single place. Billville is a final resting place for artifacts that would otherwise go unseen; a walk back in time through hypothetical Main Street, USA.
Billville accounts for about half of the collection on display at Bill’s Old Bike Barn. As the name suggests, Bill Morris (founder and owner) started the museum to showcase his collection of custom and vintage motorcycles.
Started in 1998, the space houses nearly 200 motorcycles, but the museum has far more to offer. Vintage Carousel horses, a 14-foot tall knight statue, and a shrine for local roadkill all stand proud in the main room at Bill’s Old Bike Barn. The museum isn’t called a “barn” for no reason, either. The main room is constructed from a local 1800’s barn, dismantled and reassembled by hand.
Every artifact in Bill’s collection has a story. Some of the storefronts stand as a memorial of local businesses; a plane hangs from the ceiling in homage to a disabled pilot; the only indoor covered bridge in the country displays the signatures of thousands of visitors.
Bill’s Old Bike Barn is a place where time stands still. Remnants of the past are proudly displayed, typically in near-perfect condition, promising a completely unique museum experience. The constantly evolving collection is extensive, featuring otherwise unseen artifacts. One is practically guaranteed to see something completely new.
Bill has recently started cataloging his collection with a group of students at Bloomsburg University. Currently, an audio tour, entirely narrated by Bill himself, is being constructed in an effort to preserve some of the histories. For the $5 admission fee, Bill offers a unique and nostalgic way to spend a Saturday afternoon; a deeply entertaining and unrivaled experience.
Bill’s Old Bike Barn is located on Route 11 in Bloomsburg, PA adjacent to Bill’s Custom Cycles, minutes off of I-80. The entrance is marked by two dinosaur statues. More information can be located at billsbikebarn.com and on the Bill’s Bike Barn Facebook Page.
Bill’s museum is open Thursday and Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Sunday: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.. Admission is $5 and the audio tour will be launched this winter.
Gavin is a senior English major and is a Contributing Writer for The Voice.