Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge
Backstory and Context
The process of building the Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge dates back to May of 1886. D. K. Hood and Elias Stone were chosen to select the spot for a bridge and determine necessary dimensions for the structure. The location for the bridge was decided upon as the Mill Creek ford near John Carnahan’s property. This new bridge would replace an existing bridge above Carnahan’s Ford. William Quincy and J. Grim were chosen to construct abutments for the bridge with R. B. Cunningham receiving the contract for construction of the superstructure. In 1887, work on the bridge was halted for unknown reasons. The following year, it was asked if the work could be started again on the bridge and the county court granted the request. The bid winners from before the cessation of the bridge work continued with the construction. The bridge was completed sometime during late 1889 or early 1890 for a total cost of $2860 – approximately $80,000 adjusted for inflation.
Court records say that there was another bridge built during the break in construction of the bridge above Carnahan’s Ford. The bridge was built on Carnahan’s property as well, but at a different location. This second bridge and its history have been mistaken for what is the present-day Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge. The second bridge was to be built across a run at the cross point of the Ripley and West Columbia Turnpike. George W. Staats won the bid for this bridge’s construction. The bridge was completed sometime between late 1887 and early 1888. The bridge was not completed as described in the contract and Staats was held responsible for any future damages.
Over thirty years after the completion of the Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge, the Jackson County clerk requested an engineer to start on supports for a bridge near Sandy Creek on William Weekly’s property. Options for this bridge included moving the Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge or building a new bridge. It was decided in 1924 that C. R. Kent, R. R. Hardesty, and E. R. Duke would move the bridge to its present location. The Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge that exists today is supposed to be the bridge that was built over Mill Creek rather than the other bridge built by Staats. The reasoning behind this is that the bridges were made out of different materials, the cost of the bridges differed, and also the original location of the Sarvis Fork Bridge being listed as Carnahan’s Ford, which would be the bridge built over Mill Creek.
The Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge measures 101 feet long and just shy of 12 feet wide. It is supported using a style of trusses patented by Stephen H. Long in 1830 known as the Long truss. The bridge was restored in 2000 by R. C. Construction Company & Sons, Inc. for $598,233. This restoration replaced the original sheet metal roof with stainless steel roof and repaired the siding. Additionally, the original floor was replaced with a timber floor supported by steel stringers. The Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge is still in use today and is one of only two covered bridges left in Jackson County.
Hanson, Todd A. Covered Bridges, The West Virginia Encyclopedia. May 28th 2019. Accessed August 20th 2020. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/1660.
KCI Technologies, Inc and Mead & Hunt, Inc. West Virginia Statewide Historic Bridge Survey: Final Survey Report, Highways Through History. April 1st 2015. Accessed August 20th 2020. https://www.highwaysthroughhistory.com/Content/bridges/WVSHBSFinalSurveyReport.pdf.
Kemp, E L. Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge, National Register of Historic Places. June 4th 1981. Accessed August 20th 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/jackson/81000602.pdf.
Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge, West Virginia Department of Transportation. Accessed August 20th 2020. https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/bridge_facts/covered-bridges/Pages/SarvisFork.aspx.
Schmidt, Jack, et al. Sarvis Fork Covered Bridge, Bridge Hunter. November 17th 2019. Accessed August 20th 2020. https://bridgehunter.com/wv/jackson/sarvis-fork-covered/.
E. L. Kemp