Locust Creek Covered Bridge
Locust Creek Covered Bridge
Interior view of the bridge. Note the visible double Warren trusses
Architectural sketch of the Locust Creek Covered Bridge's double Warren trusses
Ca. 1940 image of the bridge
Backstory and Context
In the mid to late nineteenth century, the Pocahontas County Court entertained a petition for a new bridge spanning Locust Creek. The purpose of the bridge was to allow easier access to nearby Josiah Beard Mill. Two builders of the Locust Creek Covered Bridge exist in records; George B. Cochran and R. N. Bruce. It seems likely that Cochran was responsible for the stone abutments upon which the bridge rests, while Bruce was likely the architect of the superstructure. There is no clear consensus on the date of the bridge’s completion. Some sources place the construction as early as 1870 while others place it as late as 1888. Cochran and Bruce were paid a total of $1,325 for their work – approximately $25,000 adjusted for inflation.
The Locust Creek Covered Bridge measures thirteen and a half feet wide and just shy of one hundred fourteen feet long. The structure has board-and-batten siding and a standing seam metal roof. It was constructed using a double Warren truss. This truss was patented in 1848 by Willoughby Theobald Monzani and namesake James Warren. It utilizes beams placed at sixty-degree angles to create a pattern of equilateral triangles. The Locust Creek Covered Bridge is a double Warren truss because there are two sets of these beams offset from one another. This design makes the bridge something of an outlier as the Warren truss, much less the double Warren truss, was rarely used in the United States. In fact, the Locust Creek Covered Bridge is the only extant example of the Warren truss in West Virginia.
Extensive repairs were made to the Locust Creek Covered Bridge in 1904. At a later date, likely 1968, three steel girders were added to help support the weight of traffic. By 1990, a concrete bypass bridge had been constructed and the Locust Creek Covered Bridge was relegated to pedestrian traffic. Despite this, the bridge received another major renovation in 2001. Orders Construction Company, Inc. was paid $406,936 to restore the bridge to its original state. The steel girders were removed and wooden parts succumbing to age were replaced. These days, the Locust Creek Covered Bridge continues to serve only as a pedestrian bridge, though it is significant as an extant double Warren truss structure and as the sole covered bridge in Pocahontas County.
Beard, Alan. About the Beard Family, West Virginia Beard. August 24th 2008. Accessed August 18th 2020. http://wvbeard.net/aboutme.htm.
Hanson, Todd A. Covered Bridges, The West Virginia Encyclopedia. May 28th 2019. Accessed August 18th 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 17th 2020. https://www.highwaysthroughhistory.com/Content/bridges/WVSHBSFinalSurveyReport.pdf.
Kemp, E L. Locust Creek Covered Bridge, National Register of Historic Places. June 4th 1981. Accessed August 18th 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/pocahontas/81000607.pdf.
Locust Creek Covered Bridge, West Virginia Department of Transportation. Accessed August 18th 2020. https://transportation.wv.gov/highways/bridge_facts/covered-bridges/Pages/LocustCreek.aspx.
Schmidt, Jack and J. P. Locust Creek Covered Bridge, Bridge Hunter. November 14th 2019. Accessed August 18th 2020. https://bridgehunter.com/wv/pocahontas/locust-creek-covered/.
Brian M. Powell
E. L. Kemp
West Virginia & Regional History Center