Once a vital piece of historical transportation, covered bridges are becoming as rare as the horse-drawn carriages that once traveled them. Covered bridges were originally built with a roof to protect the wood, which was the only material available in the early and mid-1800’s to build them with. Wooden trusses and wooden flooring can last nearly five times longer when protected from rain and snow. There were also added bonuses to covering a bridge. Horses tend to shy from high places and the covered sides kept them from seeing what lay below.

In Vinton County, only four of the more than 60 covered bridges that once dotted the landscape remain. Although only one is open to vehicle traffic, they all are open to pedestrians and are well worth a visit.

Explore Vinton County

Take a driving tour of our covered bridges.

Covered Bridge Driving Tour

Arbaugh

The oldest of the county’s remaining bridges is the Arbaugh Bridge. Built in 1871, the bridge was closed to traffic for 30 years before a grant provided for improvements that allowed the bridge to be reopened. This is the only Vinton County covered bridge open to traffic.

Mount Olive

Mt. Olive Bridge was constructed in 1875 by Civil War veteran George Washington Pilcher. It covers Middle Fork Salt Creek and is open to pedestrians.

Bay

The Bay Bridge was constructed over Little Raccoon Creek but was moved several miles to a new home at the Vinton County Fairgrounds in 1967. The move was precipitated by the construction of Lake Rupert. The bridge remains a unique attraction on the fairgrounds and is open to pedestrians.

Cox

Another of Vinton County’s bridges was moved once during its history, only this one traveled feet rather than miles. Built in 1884 over Brushy Fork Creek, the Cox Bridge was moved approximately 10 feet to the north several years ago to make way for a new bridge. In 2004, the bridge underwent a makeover thanks to a Make a Difference Day grant received by the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. It is also open to pedestrians and is the site of a small picnic area.

Ponn

The most famous of Vinton County’s bridges was the Ponn Bridge. Also known as Gheers Mill and Barnes Mill, this bridge was best known as the Humpback Bridge. Built in 1874, the Humpback Bridge was the longest in the county and attracted the most visitors for its unusual shape. There were only two of these “humpback” bridges in the country. Unfortunately, Ponn Bridge was destroyed by arson in June 2013. Its impressive sandstone abutments are all that remain, but they are still worth a visit, especially given their close proximity to the Arbaugh Bridge.