Perhaps one of the most recognizable landmarks in West Virginia (along with the New River Gorge Bridge and Seneca Rocks), the Covered Bridge at Philippi has witnessed history unfold for over 150 years.
Originally authorized in 1852 by the General Assembly of Virginia, it was to be one of two covered bridges on the Beverly to Fairmont Turnpike. (The 2nd bridge was built across the West Fork River at Hunsakers Ferry. The contract was awarded to Lemuel Chenowith, who had built several other bridges for the turnpike. It is built entirely of wood (yellow poplar, except for the iron bolts used to fasten the sections together), and is 26 feet wide and 285 feet long.
At first, there was a tollgate on the east end of the bridge. The toll for a horse and rider was 10 cents, carriage with 2 horses was 35 cents, each head of cattle was 1-1/2 cents, and a score of sheep was 5 cents.
The bridge was the site of the first land battle of the Civil War. On June 3, 1861, Union troops surprised the Confederates under the command of Col George Porterfield. Union troops took command of the bridge and used it as their barracks.
The Philippi Covered Bridge has endured floods, fires, and structural modifications. Renovations to the bridge in 1938 replaced the wooden deck with concrete. On February 2, 1989, the bridge was severely damaged by fire from a nearby gas station. An extensive $1.4 million restoration project was begun by local preservationists with the goal of restoring the bridge to its original condition.
Members of the West Virginia Forestry Association, who had a special affection for the sturdy wooden bridge, furnished yellow poplar logs, 3-1/2 feet across, to replace structural members which could not be repaired. Because the logs were too large for modern sawmills, a special sawmill was set up in near by Belington to saw the logs into rough shapes and sizes. Local carpenters learned restoration techniques and 19th century carpentry methods for the project. Using hand tools, they fashioned the beams. Forestry Association members also contributed the horizontal poplar siding and poplar shingles for the roof.
The historic Philippi Covered Bridge was reopened for public use on September 16, 1991.
To read more, click here: http://www.philippi.org/history.htm
The Historical Marker is located on the east end of the bridge (town side) at the junction of Rt 119 and Rt 250.
View of the bridge from the east end.
View through the bridge approaching from the east end.
Close up view of the inside. Contrast original timbers with new ones from the '89 fire.
I have probably passed through the Philippi bridge a thousand times, travelling between Clarksburg and Petersburg since I was an infant, to my Grandparents' farm. It was always a sign that we were close to home when returning from Petersburg. The thrill of going through the bridge never goes away. Many great memories here!