Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sarvis Fork Bridge

Only seventeen of these beauties are left in West Virginia. Nobody knows how many were built only to be destroyed by decay or flood.  By the end of the 1950's, though, there were only fifty-four left and by 1979, only nineteen.  Today, according to Ryan Post of Covered Bridges of West Virginia, and several other web sites, there are only 17 remaining.  Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge is one of these.
Also known as New Era Covered Bridge, Odaville Covered Bridge and Sandyville Covered Bridge, it was not originally on Sarvis Fork.  No, it was built in 1889 by R.B. Cunningham and W.B. Staats over John Carnahan's Fork, a branch of Big Mill Creek, not far from Ripley, West Virginia.  When U.S. Route 33 was built in 1924, an iron bridge was constructed leaving the beautiful covered bridge to be first abandoned then relocated and rebuilt  at its present site over the Left Fork of the Sandy River near Sandyville, West Virginia.
In 1889, it cost Mr. Staats about $64.00 to built his bridge.  The 2000 rebuild cost $598,233.00.
In researching the bridge for this article, I learned that in 1969 a State Road truck broke through the floor planks causing the floor to be replaced with some steel support.  Steel piers were also added.
These piers were removed with the 2000 rebuild.  The bridge now is 101 feet long, a 13-panel Long-truss, Burr arch truss bridge. In case you are wonering,  "Long truss" is named after its designer, Stephen Long.  The "Burr arch" is named for Theodore Burr. These arches made the bridge more stiff and allowed it to be up to 250 feet long. If you want to read about more truss systems, including this one, go to this link Theodore Burr Covered Bridge.
Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge is now supported by steel I-beam stringers. This type of support allows the bridge to lie gracefully across the creek, stretching from bank to bank.
More grace awaits underneath the red weathered covering where beauty is seen in the geometry and physics defining the bridge.
To drive across the Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge, start in Ripley, West Virginia at the junction of U.S. Route 33 and State Route 21.  follow Route 21 north for 10.9 miles to Sarvis Road. Turn right and you will see the bridge. Stop and enjoy the view for a moment.  There is not much traffic here. Once you have looked and taken your pictures, get back in your car, roll the windows down then drive on through. Listen to the sound of the wooden decking, loose boards laid closely together on their sides, held in place by beams.  The somewhat disconcerting rickety sound of the boards moving beneath your wheels means that the deck is working as it should.  You have successfully driven two centuries back in time.


eileeninmd said...

Great shots of the covered bridge. The covered bridges are really are scenic.

TexWisGirl said...

very nice. $64? wow!

Melissa said...

I very much enjoyed a visit to this area of West Virginia last year--a surprisingly beautiful corner of the country.

Denise said...

Lovely old bridges, I have been to a few here in Virginia. Great photos of this one, I enjoyed learning about its history.