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Covered Bridges

Once a vital piece of transportation history, covered bridges are becoming as rare as the horse-drawn carriages that once traveled them. In Vinton County, just 5 of the more than 60 covered bridges that once dotted the landscape remain today. Although most are not open to vehicle traffic, they all are open to pedestrians and are well worth a visit.

The most famous of Vinton County's bridges is the Ponn Bridge. Also known as Gheers Mill and Barnes Mill, this bridge is best known as the Humpback Bridge. Built in 1874, the Humpback Bridge is the longest in the county and attracts the most visitors for its unusual shape. There are just a handful of these “humpback” bridges remaining in the world today. It has been closed to motor vehicles for several years but remains open to pedestrians. 

Unfortunately, Ponn Bridge was destroyed due to Arson in June of 2013. It had been a part of Vinton County’s heritage and Tourism for over a century. Although the bridge is gone, its frequent visitors will not soon forget the fond memories they have of the famous bridge. The Assailants involved in the burning of the bridge are still unknown and at large. Hopefully soon the people involved with this destruction will be apprehended and justice for the bridge will be served.

Mt. Olive Bridge was constructed in 1875 by Civil War veteran George Washington Pilcher. It covers Middle Fork Salt Creek and is open to pedestrians.
The Bay Bridge was constructed over Little Raccoon Creek but was moved several miles to a new home at the Vinton County Fairgrounds in 1967. The move was precipitated by the construction of Lake Rupert. The bridge remains a unique attraction on the fairgrounds and is open to pedestrians.

Another of Vinton County's bridges was moved once during its history, only this one traveled feet rather than miles. Built in 1884 over Brushy Fork Creek, the Cox Bridge was moved approximately 10 feet to the north several years ago to make way for a new bridge. In 2004, the bridge underwent a makeover thanks to a Make a Difference Day grant received by the Convention and Visitors' Bureau. It is also open to pedestrians and is the site of a small picnic area.

The oldest of the county's remaining bridges is the Arbaugh Bridge. Built in 1871, the bridge was closed to traffic for 30 years before a grant provided for improvements that allowed the bridge to be reopened. This is the only Vinton County covered bridge open to traffic.

A little bit about covered bridges: Why cover a bridge? Covered bridges were originally built with a roof to protect the wood, which was the only material available in the early and mid-1800's to build them with. Wooden trusses and wooden flooring can last nearly five times longer when protected from rain and snow. There were also added bonuses to covering a bridge. Horses tend to shy from high places and the covered sides kept them from seeing what lay below. Covered bridges were also known as "kissing bridges" and were a social gathering place for young couples wishing some privacy from prying eyes. Covered bridges were also once popularly known as "wishing bridges." A wish made inside a covered bridge is supposed to come true, so be sure to make a wish during your visit to each of our five covered bridges!

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