The Mount Meridian Bridge is a closed Pratt through truss bridge along VA Route 769 over the Middle River in Augusta County, Virginia.
The Mount Meridian Bridge, a closed Pratt through truss structure, spans the Middle River along VA Route 769 in Augusta County, Virginia.
Historically, the vicinity around the Knightly Bridge was a center for agriculture. Initially focused on tobacco, the region shifted to wheat farming around 1790, influenced by high European demand during the French Revolution. 1 This led to increased grain production and the establishment of gristmills. As a result, a road network developed during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, connecting farms to mills and other key locations. By 1885, Augusta County was home to 81 gristmills, 16 sawmills, five combination mills, a plaster mill, and a carding mill.
In 1797, the farmland northwest of the Middle River, opposite Mount Meridian village, was patented to William Craig. 1 A gristmill and dam already existed on this land. The dam served as an early fording point for those traveling on Snowflake Mill Road, connecting the Valley Turnpike to the Staunton-Port Republic Road.
By 1865, Mount Meridian village had emerged southeast of the river, benefiting from market opportunities via the Shenandoah Valley Railroad and increased tourism to nearby caverns. 1 To provide a more direct route to Mount Meridian along Snowflake Mill Road, the Mount Meridian Bridge was built, replacing the original ford. This bridge consisted of an iron span on masonry abutments with wooden approaches.
From July to October 1884, the Road Board of the Middle River District undertook bridge repairs, covering timber with metal roofing and painting the structure, at a cost of $151. 1 In 1903, an initial repair budget of $156 was deemed insufficient, leading the Road Board to request an estimated $800 for repairs.
However, by 1906, there was a growing consensus to replace the aging bridge. 1 That November, it was resolved to construct a new bridge, and by December, a $7,000 contract was secured with the Champion Bridge Company of Wilmington, Ohio, for the superstructure. For the project, the Champion Bridge Company contracted John G. Fulton and E. L. Houff, Jr., to source the necessary lumber. They netted a profit of approximately $140.
By spring 1907, the new Mount Meridian Bridge was completed, with additional abutment work finalized in 1912. 1
In 1967, Snowflake Mill Road (VA Route 256) was re-routed between Interstate 81 at Weyers Cave and US Route 340 at Grottoes. 3 This new alignment featured a modern two-lane Mount Meridian Bridge, which bypassed the original 1907 crossing.
The older bridge had faced multiple challenges over its lifespan. Regular flooding resulted in high maintenance and repair costs. 1 After a particularly severe flood in 1985, the Virginia Department of Transportation considered closing the 1907 bridge. However, the community resisted this move. Owing to structural concerns, the bridge was ultimately closed to traffic in 1997.
In November 2014, the Virginia Department of Transportation put the now-abandoned Mount Meridian Bridge up for sale. 2 3 Two of the three spans have since been removed.
The following photographs are from Rob Tucher for the Historic American Engineering Record.
- State: Virginia
- Route: VA Route 769
- Type: Pratt Through Truss
- Status: Abandoned / Closed
- Total Length: 360'
- Main Span Length: 129'
- Spans: 98', 125'
- Deck Width: 14'
- Total Height: 20'
- Navigational Clearance: 27'
- “Mount Meridian Bridge.” Historic American Engineering Record, 1994.
- “Old Bridge For Sale In Augusta County.” WINA, 2014.
- Trice, Calvin. “This bridge could be yours!” News Leader, 6 Nov. 2014.