Getaway for a Day: Kissing Bridges

By Lorin Drinkard

There’s something about the crisp days of autumn that makes it perfect hand-holding, picnic-lunch-on-a-blanket weather. With all the romance stirred up by the falling leaves this month, why not take advantage of Virginia’s historically lovey-dovey hot spots: kissing bridges.

Although the majority of the Commonwealth’s original 100 plus structures from the early 1900s have long since been lost to decay, several covered structures remain intact and make for a great day trip. Drive through the country, unpack a picnic, take in the scenery and steal a smooch or two.

Humpback Bridge

Humpback Bridge (Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation)

Built in 1857, Humpback Bridge stands as Virginia’s oldest remaining covered bridge, designed for the James River and Kanawha Turnpike Company years ago. Spanning over 100 feet across Dunlap Creek, the bridge gets its name from the added height (four feet) in the center, giving it a humplike appearance. Each of the hand-cut timbers is held in place by hand-crafted locust pins and there’s no middle support, making this design unique and one-of-a-kind. Humpback Bridge carried cars across its path until 1929.

After being rebuilt in 1953 through efforts of the Covington Business and Women’s Club as well as the Covington Chamber of Commerce, five acres surrounding the bridge were purchased and turned into a park area. The bridge is no longer open to traffic, and it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon in the shaded woods and sneaking an unseen kiss on the bridge.

Humpback Bridge
On Rte. 60, just off Exit 10 from I-64
Covington, Va.

• Picnic tables
• Restrooms
• 100 + types of trees and shrubs
• Photo ops

Meem’s Bottom Bridge

Tucked away between New Market and Mount Jackson in Shenandoah Valley is another of Virginia’s historic kissing bridges: Meem’s Bottom Bridge. It was constructed near 1892-1893 as a single-span Burr arch and is the longest of the remaining bridges, stretching 200 feet over the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Farmer Franklin Hiser Wissler erected the bridge so as to create a more direct way to access his apple orchards, constructing the huge arch supports and abutments from local wood and stone.

Meem’s Bottom Bridge stayed in the Wissler family until he deeded it over to the county in the 1930s for maintenance. On Halloween in 1976, vandals burned down the 80-year-old structure. Efforts were given to rebuild using as much of the original material as possible, also reinforcing it with steel and concrete to ensure the bridge would out-last fires and require fewer repairs. Today, it’s the only covered bridge that still carries traffic across. Drive the narrow road that once served as Wissler’s private lane, with an incredible view of the Blue Ridge Mountains alongside, and enter under the wooden covering for a journey back in time.

Meem’s Bottom Bridge
Wissler Road/Rte. 720 , off Rte. 11
Mount Jackson, Va.

• Driving access to the bridge
• Picnic tables
• Virginia Landmark and National Historic Register location
• Beautiful scenery

Bob White Covered Bridge & Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge

Both designed by Walter Weaver in the early 1900s, the Bob White Covered Bridge and Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge are historical reminders of the days of old. Weaver’s descendants still live in the area and it’s not uncommon to run into someone related to the initial construction.

Named after the nearby post office, which was named after a type of quail, the Bob White Covered Bridge was built in 1921 overlooking the Smith River. This 80-foot structure, dubbd “Woolwine’s Baby,” is uniquely designed in comparison to other kissing bridges. While the other bridges have one span, the Bob White has two. Also, instead of stacking stones for the substructure, concrete was used to solidify the bridge. The bridge’s inside also differs from others, as it’s diagonally sheathed to cover the truss system. It once carried cars from Route 8 over the river to the Smith River Church of the Brethren. Today, visitors can walk the same path under the kissing bridge, and share some affection away from the public eye.

Also named for its namesake local fellowship – Jack’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge is a similar, smaller version of Bob White. “Master Weaver of Woolville,” as a plaque inside the structure now reads, did design the original layout for the bridge, however the builder was a man from Buffalo Ridge Charlie Vaughn, while Peter Brammer was hired to cover the bridge. Constructed in 1914, the 48-foot bridge is uniquely constructed. Like Bob White, it’s inlaid with vertical board-and-board siding and also has diagonal sheathing over the trusses. Often referred to as the “no nonsense bridge” due to its efficient and functional appearance, Jack’s Creek remained in use until 1932. Take a romantic stroll under its wooden roof, just as lovers over the past decades have, and let the kissing bridge transport you back to a simpler time, full of nostalgia and days gone by.

Bob White Covered Bridge
1028 Elamsville Road
Stuart, VA 24171

Jack’s Creek Covered Bridge
1274 Jacks Creek Road
Woolwine, VA 24185

• Photos ops
• Virginia Landmark and National Historic Register location
• Romantic setting
• Nearby town attractions

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