COVINGTON, Va. – Chances are you’ve seen pictures of it on a calendar or a postcard, but how much do you actually know about the history behind Humpback Bridge?
As part of this week’s In Your Town series focused on Alleghany County, here are some quick facts about the covered bridge:
It’s one of a kind
Humpback Bridge is the only covered, humpback bridge left in the United States, and is the oldest covered bridge in the Commonwealth.
The bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was used for vehicular traffic until 1929.
Now, it’s part of a 5-acre park.
What gives it that shape, anyway?
If you take a look at the bridge, it definitely has a distinctive hump. But why is that?
The 100-foot bridge has no middle support, and the center point of the bridge is eight feet higher than the ends, creating its distinctive hump.
This design was done intentionally to increase the lifespan of the bridge and keep the midpoint above floodwaters.
Come hell or high water
If you make the trip to see the bridge now, the structure you’ll find is not the original bridge.
The current bridge was built in 1857 to replace several earlier bridges that were all destroyed by floodwaters.
The bridge and the ones that came before it were all a part of the James River and Kanawha Turnpike, which was the principal highway of Western Virginia.
What the hay?
The current bridge stood derelict and was even used to store hay by a nearby farmer, until the 1950s.
Thanks to the Covington Business and Professional Woman’s Club, the Virginia Department of Transportation and locals, the bridge was reopened in 1954.
In 2013, additional renovations were done to the bridge with funds from the National Historic Covered Bridge Program.