The Knightly Bridge carries VA Route 778 over the Middle River in Knightly, Augusta County, Virginia.
The Knightly Bridge, which spans the Middle River in Knightly, Augusta County, Virginia, is part of VA Route 778. Built in 1915 by the Champion Bridge Company from Wilmington, Ohio, this bridge features a single-span, pin-connected steel Camelback Parker through truss design. 1
Historically, the region around the Knightly Bridge has been an agricultural hub. Initially dominated by tobacco farming, the area pivoted to wheat production around 1790 due to soaring European prices during the French Revolution. 1 This shift led to the rise of gristmills and a boost in grain production. Consequently, a road network evolved in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, linking farms to mills and other essential hubs. By 1885, Augusta County boasted 81 gristmills, 16 sawmills, five combination mills, one plaster mill, and a carding mill.
Robert Wiley was granted 120 acres around Knightly in 1760. 1 The first mill nearby was set up on the southeast side of the Middle River between 1807 and 1819. By 1848, a complex of merchant, grist, saw, and plaster mills had sprung up on both riverbanks.
On October 25, 1909, the Knightly Milling Company proposed building a bridge over the Middle River to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors. 1 The county Road Board of the Middle River District filed its report with the Board of Supervisors on February 28, 1910, although it referred the project back to the Road Board for a second report and a more detailed cost estimate.
Although the initial proposal in 1910 didn’t gain traction, the request was revived on April 23, 1914. 1 The Board eventually approved the construction on June 4, outlining a 175-foot-long, 16-foot-wide iron bridge with a budget cap of $3,000. The petitioners committed to constructing the bridge abutments and ensuring the approach was at no cost to the county.
By August 27, a contract had been signed with the Champion Bridge Company for the bridge superstructure, costing $3,625. 1 Daniel Garber, owner of the Knightly Mill property, began working on the bridge’s abutments and approaches during the winter season. Although he had initially agreed to a $2,200 budget for this, with a personal contribution of $1,800, he faced challenges in securing additional funds from other petitioners. On April 22, he requested an additional $250 from the Board which they approved. On the same day, the bridge’s superstructure was completed, and the Champion Bridge Company received $3,728 for their work.
In October 2019, the Knightly Bridge was closed to traffic after routine inspections showed significant deterioration of the structure. 2 Repairs were conducted, allowing it to reopen on December 12.
The following photographs are from Rob Tucher for the Historic American Engineering Record.
- State: Virginia
- Route: VA Route 778
- Type: Camelback Through Truss, Parker Through Truss
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 182'
- Deck Width: 14.4'
- Total Height: 28'
- Above Vertical Clearance: 15.6'
- Navigational Clearance: 22'