It was the oldest of the three remaining covered bridges in Erie County. The bridge structure's sufficiency rating on the Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory was only 14.6 percent and its condition was deemed "basically intolerable requiring high priority of corrective action".
The Gudgeonville Bridge was constructed around 1868 and was rebuilt in the early 1870s after a fire. The bridge is located in Girard Township and crosses Elk Creek. The bridge was built and designed by William Sherman. The foundation of the bridge is believed to be remnants of the Erie Extension Canal. The name of the bridge has been a mystery with some sources indicating that the bridge was constructed to provide access to a gudgeon factory.
The bridge has been damaged from numerous small fires and has been the site of constant vandalism over the years. There were several proposals to dismantle the bridge and move it to a more secure location where it would not be vandalized. Another proposal was to build another bridge to bypass the original bridge, as it is too narrow to allow a variety of vehicles to cross it, including snowplows, fire trucks, and ambulances.
Evans' 2001 Pennsylvania's covered bridges: a complete guide described the bridge to be "structurally sound," but its general appearance to be "most disappointing". The Federal Highway Administration National Bridge Inventory found the sufficiency rating of the bridge structure to be only 14.6 percent. It found that the bridge's foundations were determined to "scour critical," meaning that the bridge's foundations were "determined to be unstable for the calculated scour conditions," and that the railing "does not meet currently acceptable standards". Its overall condition was deemed "basically intolerable requiring high priority of corrective action", with an estimated cost to improve the bridge of $107,000.
The Gudgeonville Covered Bridge caught fire around 1:40 am local time on November 8, 2008. The blaze was determined by the Pennsylvania State Police to have been an arson. On December 17, the State Police arrested two suspects after they confessed to dousing the bridge in gasoline and setting it on fire. The suspects were also involved in several other incidents in northern Crawford County and western Erie County. In August 2009, one of the arsonists was convicted and sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison for the destruction of the bridge and for an unrelated charge. The other arsonist was sentenced to 5 1⁄2 to 14 years for the fire and for a string of other crimes.