3 votes

Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01


Photo taken by Tom Hall in July 2007


BH Photo #116136

Street View 


The Philippi Covered Bridge is remarkable for several reasons. It was built in 1852, and still carries traffic today. It is the only covered bridge on the U.S. Highway System, carrying US Route 250. It is the longest covered bridge in West Virginia. It was the site of the first land battle of the Civil War on June 3, 1861, and was subsequently crossed by both Union and Confederate troops in various stages of the war.

The bridge was heavily damaged by fire on February 2, 1989, when a gasoline tanker truck refilling underground tanks at a nearby filling station overfilled a tank, spilling gasoline which ran down into the bridge. A car passing through the bridge then sparked a fire when its exhaust system backfired. (from Wikipedia) When it was carefully rebuilt, a fire sprinkler system was installed, which is visible in Photo #24.


Burr arch-truss bridge over Tygart Valley River on U.S. 250 in Philippi
Philippi, Barbour County, West Virginia
Open to traffic; posted for load
Built 1852; site of Battle of Philippi June 3, 1861; Reconstructed 1991 after fire
- Lemuel Chenoweth
Burr arch-truss
Length of largest span: 78.1 ft.
Total length: 311.0 ft.
Deck width: 26.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 10.2 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.15300, -80.04335   (decimal degrees)
39°09'11" N, 80°02'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/582660/4334191 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2015)
Inventory numbers
NRHP 72001284 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 36774 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of August 2018)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 72.9 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • February 14, 2022: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added category "Civil War"
  • October 25, 2021: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added category "Double-barreled"
  • May 20, 2021: Updated by Doug K: Removed category "Covered bridge open to traffic"
  • December 12, 2019: Updated by Roger Deschner: New photos, expanded description, added category "US 250"
  • November 14, 2019: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • October 3, 2015: New photos from Bill Eichelberger
  • December 3, 2011: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added Civil War category
  • August 14, 2010: New Street View added by James Baughn
  • February 28, 2010: Updated by Robert Stephenson: Merged NBI data
  • February 20, 2010: Updated by Joshua Collins: added gps coordinates
  • June 29, 2008: Added by Tom Hall


  • Tom Hall - thomas [dot] hall [at] ffni [dot] com
  • Joshua Collins - Bigjc1979 [at] aol [dot] com
  • Robert Stephenson - seinfeld99 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Wikipedia
  • Bill Eichelberger
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • Roger Deschner - rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com


Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01
Posted October 16, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

One has to consider a couple of other factors here as well...

*The bridge is still in use on Federal Highway US 250, and some of the strengthening can be attributed to that. The 2 concrete piers were added in 1934 probably for that very reason.

*After being damaged by flooding in 1985, the bridge was nearly destroyed in 1989. A gasoline tanker was filling underground tanks at a nearby gas station when the fuel overflowed down a hill and onto the bridge. A hot muffler from a car crossing ignited it and set the bridge on fire heavily damaging it. The people jumped from the car before it rolled back to the entrance of the bridge. The bridge was renovated and reopened in 1991 costing 1.4 Million dollars. And although steel was added underneath to strengthen the weakened superstructure, as much of the original trusses as possible were retained.

Given all that this iconic structure has been through, I think I can overlook the additions that have helped it survive. Many covered spans that have been through much less have unfortunately had much to all of their historic integrity lost.

Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01
Posted October 16, 2017, by Michael Quiet (mquiet [at] gmail [dot] com)


Its a pretty mixed bag, with both variations in policy depending on what state you are in and what time it was done and the location/traffic of the bridge. For example in the 60's and early 70's it was very common in my home state of Vermont to add steel supports or even remove the entire bottom of the bridge and replace it with and independent steel and concrete bridge, retaining the authentic cover. At the time this was seen as progressive, but by the late 70's and 80's the sentiment moved more towards in-kind restoration and preservation. Today we have a comprehensive policy towards rehabilitation and maintenance of covered bridges that keeps them working as their original framers intended.

Cross over the Connecticut river into New Hampshire and there are only a handful of covered bridges with steel supports. Most of them were modified way back in the early 1900's with the addition of large laminated wooden arches. These modifications are old enough to be historic in their own right, and look more 'natural' then steel supports. Fortunately these arches strengthened them sufficiently to survive without further modification.

Certainly though it can be said that more covered bridges have been modified then any of us would like to see. I feel like there has been an increase in awareness for historic integrity of covered bridges though, so hopefully we won't see more of these modifications in the future.

Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01
Posted October 15, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

That is possible. I am much more familiar with metal truss bridges in the Midwest.

Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01
Posted October 15, 2017, by Melissa Jurgensen

Robert, I disagree because the overwhelming majority of bridges I have seen in many states do not have any steel underneath and the truss still supports the bridge. It takes away from the character of the bridge and to me, makes it less authentic. Perhaps different states just have different ideas about "restoration"

Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01
Posted October 10, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


I have not looked at as many covered bridges as some people have on here, but in my limited experience it seems to me that a lot of covered bridges have steel stringers underneath them now. In fact, I would suspect that the overwhelming majority of them have steel stringers.

I visited this bridge a couple years ago. It is really an incredible structure despite having had a few reconstructions over the years.


Philippi Covered Bridge 48-01-01
Posted October 10, 2017, by Melissa Jurgensen

Visited this bridge on October 8, 2017 and it is open to traffic once again. I was disappointed to see how much metal work is running underneath the bridge supporting it.

Philippi Covered Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I added this one to your new Civil War category J.P.

This bridge was the site of the first land battle of the war in June 1861, and one of two in the county that survived the war without being burned.