Monday, December 02, 2013

Humpback Covered Bridge


Humpback Bridge, located in Alleghany County just outside Covington, is the oldest of five remaining covered bridges in Virginia. This structure, built in 1857, was saved by preservationists in 1954; it ceased to be used for traffic in 1929 when the state built a bypass. The bridge is about a 60 minute drive away from us.

 

This plaque tells the story. I notice the dates on the plaque and those at the VDOT website I used to learn more about the bridge do not match up exactly. At any rate, Humpback Bridge is a Virginia and National Historic Landmark. No one disputes the historic nature of the structure!


It's a beautiful piece of functional art. It sits in a park with picnic area. 

 
This amazing monument to our history affirms for me how much our ancestors cared about quality and aesthetic beauty.


This is an old gear from the paper mill in Covington. It is used to form an "O" in the word "LOVE," which you can see in the first picture and in the picture below. The L and E are also from materials with historic meaning to the local community, and the three makes up the "V." 

 

The bridge is raised in the middle, which is why it is called a Humpback bridge. It crosses over Dunlap Creek, which feeds into the Jackson River which then meets up with the James near Iron Gate.

 
I confess to feeling a sense of history (and perhaps romance) when I walked toward the opening.

 
Said feeling was quickly eradicated at the site of graffiti. Apparently everyone who visits (except us) feels compelled to write their name on the inside of the bridge.

 
People put their names and a date in most instances. It was an odd experience to see this - it took away the romance of the structure, but added an intriguing aspect of humanity to it. In researching the history for this blog post, I could find no references to the graffiti, though.

 
These are the inner trusses of the covered roof. I understand the roof was repaired just this summer (2013).

 
This is the flooring. You can see how it slopes.

 
I studied some of the graffiti looking for the oldest dates. Below is one of the older ones.


However, I also found one that dated 1954, though it was very faint and didn't show up well for a picture. So the tradition of writing on the walls of this structure has been going on for a very long time.

To reach Humpback Bridge from Botetourt, head north on US 220, get on I-64 West, go to exit 10, and it's about 1/2 mile on Rt. 60. Very easy to reach and it would be a nice day trip if you took a picnic lunch.

We went in the middle of November, and it was a little cold for picnicking. I want to return to take photos of this bridge again in the spring; I imagine it is quite lovely there at that time of year.

8 comments:

  1. oh i love the addition of "love"..it wasn't there when we visited a few years back...i know what you mean about the graffiti, i hate it..but for some reason i'm ok with the older dates...seems a little romantic to me, the new-ish stuff is just vandalism.

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  2. It's such a neat bridge, and one I have wanted to visit and photograph for about five years but never taken the time to drive up there unfortunately... Must put on my bucket list... Great photos!

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  3. We went there this summer, but it was closed. Maybe we can try again next summer.

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  4. I have done several paintings of it over the years, there were trees in the way of most views but it looks a little more open now. Looks like they are keeping it up pretty good.

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  5. What a beautiful bridge. Never have seen this form before. I would love to visit.

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  6. I love covered bridges. A friend and I toured three counties of covered bridges one fall during a trip to Pennsylvania -- Ashtabula County in Ohio, and Washington and Somerset Counties (where Flight 93 crashed in 2011) in PA. Only about three dozen bridges. We weren't able to get to all of those in Washington Cty, and missed the few in nearby Greene Cty. Would love to do that again, now that I have a better camera.

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  7. What a delightful structure - I wonder why the bridges were covered in the first place, and why they chose the hump-backed shape. I agree about the graffiti. The older signatures are less offensive over here partly because they are usually carved into stone and the great care has obviously been taken to make the lettering look good. There's pride and self respect in the project. Modern scrawls in marker pen or whatever just looks scruffy - they're there to be in your face and tell you how little the writer cares about your opinion, I suspect. "I'm a disrespecting scruff, and proud of it." Well, freedom of speech - and so on.

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  8. the hubby & i went there on one of our 1st dates. loved it there. so love covered bridges!! try to find them where ever we travel. ( :

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