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
MT. OLIVE BRIDGE