Seventeen historic covered bridges span West Virginia’s rivers and streams, and most are still in use by motorists or are open to pedestrians. In this article, we explore five that are in or near the scenic Greenbrier River valley.
Along the historic Sweet and Salt Sulphur Springs Turnpike in Monroe County is the Indian Creek Covered Bridge which was constructed in 1898. The modified Howe truss was bypassed in 1929 and thereafter abandoned. The Monroe County Historical Society leased the covered bridge in 1965 and led an effort to rehabilitate the structure for pedestrians and today the bridge and surrounding grounds are a public park.
Nearby is the state’s shortest bridge. Laurel Creek Covered Bridge was completed by Lewis Miller in 1911 and restored in 2000.
Located over Second Creek in neighboring Greenbrier County is Hokes Mill Covered Bridge. Erected in 1897-99 by B.F. Mann, R.A. McDowell, and Austin B. Erwin, the covered Long through truss was bypassed in 1991 and rehabilitated for pedestrians in 2002. Out of all of the covered bridges in the area, this is the most neglected with petty vandalism that goes unchecked because of its remote location. Investing in trail cams can be a cost effective method at deterring further issues. They cost less than rebuilding the superstructure after arson or repainting every few years.
The situation is better at Herns Mill Covered Bridge, a covered Queenpost through truss over Milligan Creek closer to the Midland Trail and Lewisburg. Erected in 1884 to replace a deficient structure, it was rehabilitated in 2000 and still carries traffic to this day. Probably owing to its continued use, any graffiti that is done to the structure is quickly painted over.
Much of the area’s rural character has not changed much in centuries, with family farms spread between the linear mountain ranges in the Greenbrier River valley. One such example is up the road from Herns Mill where the Swift Level horse and cattle farm has been around since the 1820s.
Finally, north of Lewisburg is Locust Creek Covered Bridge. The covered double-intersection Warren through truss was constructed in 1870 by R. N. Bruce. It burned in 1888 and was subsequently replaced. It was rebuilt again in 1904 and renovated in 1968. Temporary supports that were installed during the floor replacement during that project, including three steel bents on the west side and two timber ones on the east side, were left in place.
Locust Creek Covered Bridge was bypassed in 1990 and the structure was rehabilitated in 2001-02 for pedestrians.