The Humpback Covered Bridge is a covered crossing along the historic James River & Kanawha Turnpike over Dunlap Creek in Alleghany County, Virginia.
In 1784, George Washington toured the Allegheny Mountains region of western reaches of Virginia and reported to the General Assembly the necessity of constructing a system of canals and turnpikes to open trade and communication with the western frontier. 2 The James River Company was formed in 1785 and in 1820, the Assembly passed an act making the Company a state-operated venture. It also authorized the construction of the 208-mile Kanawha Turnpike from the mouth of Dunlap Creek to the Great Falls of the Kanawha River, which would be the first and only transportation link between the James and Kanawha rivers prior to the Civil War.
A contract to build the section of the Turnpike between Covington and Gauley was let to John Carruthers in 1824. 1 2 It specified that the three bridges over Dunlap Creek be composed of three frame structures 25 feet wide, but all of the structrures exhibited structural issues and one ultimately collapsed in 1825. The crossings over Dunlap Creek were all destroyed in a flood on May 12, 1837. 1
Another flood destroyed all of the bridges on the Turnpike between Covington and Lewisburg on July 13, 1842, and all were subsequently rebuilt within a year. 1 2 The Lower Dunlap Creek Bridge west of Covington collapsed in 1856 and its replacement, a covered multiple Kingpost bridge 100 feet in length, was constructed in 1857 1 by Mr. Venable of Lewisburg and his assistant, Tomas Kincaid. 2 The single-span structure was built four feet higher at its center and was nicknamed the “Humpback Bridge.” 1 It remained in use by the Turnpike’s successor, US Route 60, until 1929 when it was bypassed with a stronger steel truss bridge. Afterward, the Humpback Bridge was used on occasion for the storage of hay.
In 1953, the Virginia Highway Department matched a $5,000 fund that had been raised by the Covington Business & Professional Women’s Club and the Covington Chamber of Commerce which allowed the county to acquire the bridge and five acres surrounding it. 1 A small wayside park was developed and the restored Humpback Bridge opened to pedestrians in 1954. The crossing was designated a Virginia Historic Landmark in 1969 and later added to the National Register of Historic Places. 2
The Humpback Bridge underwent restoration using funds from the National Historic Covered Bridge Program in 2013. 1 Today, it remains the oldest covered bridge in the state.
- State: Virginia
- Route: Formerly US Route 60
- Type: Covered Kingpost Truss
- Status: Active - Pedestrian
- Total Length: 120 feet
- Main Span Length: 100 feet
- Deck Width: 15 feet
- Roadway Width: 13 feet
- Above Vertical Clearance: 13 feet
- “Humpback Bridge – Virginia’s Oldest Covered Bridge.” Virginia Department of Transportation, 18 Oct. 2019.
- Bennett, Lola. “Humpback Covered Bridge.” Historic American Engineering Resource, 2002.