Guess What Day It Is: Week 16
Hump Day at the Humpback Bridge
When I started this weekly letter to you that old ‘Wednesday is Hump Day’ / “Happier than a camel on Wednesday” commercial came to mind. Remember, the camel – did you know his name is Caleb – he is one cool camel – anyway, I was pretty impressed by Caleb’s swaggering around asking “Guess What Day It Is” and thought it would be a good heading. With that in mind, you can imagine how elated I was when spotting a road sign for “Humpback Bridge”. Humpback Bridge for Hump Day – fortuitous! A narrow tree sheltered road winds a mile off the highway to a wayside park where I discovered a “love -ly” deposit to my memory bank and a story I hope you will enjoy. Here I found what is said to be the last remaining covered humpback bridge in the United States – and it is a site to behold! This much-loved landmark spans Dunlap Creek, a tributary of the Jackson River in Alleghany County Virginia a few miles outside Covington and has truly stood the test of time. Walking across the historic bridge I feel the vibrations of history beneath my feet. The first arched bridge was built on this site sometime in the 1820’s and the humpback bridge of today was built in 1857. The 100-foot-long, single-span structure is four feet higher at its center than it is at either end, thus the name, “Humpback”.
In 1929 the bridge was closed to traffic and left to decay – it was even used by a local farmer to store hay. Fortunately for us, in 1950 the Covington Women’s Business Association convinced the Chamber of Commerce to raise funds to preserve and restore the old bridge. Most covered bridges were made of the strongest readily available wood. In the case of the Humpback Covered Bridge, this meant white oak and hickory so the bridge, as it stands today, has most of the original hand-hewn support timbers and decking that was laid down in 1857. The supports utilized hand made honey locust wood pins to fasten it together and incorporate a unique curved multiple kingpost-trust system not found in any other surviving in wooden bridge in the U.S. This venerable bridge is an original and completely unique design not duplicated anywhere else. And it is beautiful – photographers and artists come from all around the world to try to capture it’s beauty. It re-opened to the public in 1954 as the centerpiece of a wayside park. On October 1, 1969, the bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2012 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Most of us have heard the well-known slogan “Virginia Is For Lovers.” That message is reinforced at the bridge where the word LOVE is spelled out – the L is created using historic bricks from the local area, a metal gear from a retired paper machine for the O, a natural feature created by a tree in the creek bank shaped in the letter V, and an E made from railroad ties representing the history of the railroad in the community. The “LOVE” sign seems fitting in this location as during their heyday covered bridges were called “kissing bridges” as the privacy when passing through a covered bridge would give passengers in horse and buggy a place to kiss without being seen.
Turns out this sign is one of many LOVEwork structures popping up in every corner of the state as the focal point of a campaign to share the message that love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. There are approximately 200 “LOVEworks scattered across the Commonwealth, each meant to celebrate the unique character of the individual area. As I am always looking for hidden gems and places to inspire and delight – small towns with history and charm – nature and jaw dropping views and because I am an incurable romantic this project captured my heart. Now, I am on a quest to “add a little LOVE to our lives” by visiting as many as I get to in my time here and sharing them with you. Even if I don’t capture them all, I am looking forward to my search for “LOVE” and hope you will be as well.
Travelers join Daytripping Destinations from all over the country. For flexibility, all our tours depart from major airport locations with the first night accommodations at a convenient airport hotel.
They are a class act.