Covered bridges, sometimes called “kissing bridges” are one of the last remaining physical links we have to our history. In our fast paced world of asphalt and concrete, it looks a little strange to come around a bend and see covered bridge. It’s also a fantastic and romantic sight for those of us who are fascinated by the idea of what our communities once looked like.
In Vinton County, we have five covered bridges. Of those, four are open to pedestrians while the fifth is open to motor vehicles.
Arbaugh Bridge happens to be the oldest of our covered bridges but is the only one open to cars today. It was actually closed for thirty years, seemingly doomed to gradually rot and fall into the Raccoon Creek. But a federal transportation grant designated for covered bridge preservation and repair allowed for the bridge to be reopened a few years ago.
The bridge is 118 feet long and 14 feet wide. It was built by Gilman and Ward Company in 1871 and cost $800. For all you covered bridge enthusiasts who know what this means, this single span bridge has Multiple King Posts with wooden arch truss design and stone abutments. Like most of our bridges, the Arbaugh Bridge is known by other names, including Aikens, Eakins Mill, McLaughlin and Geer’s Mill.
If you visit, you might take along someone you would like to kiss to help the bridge live up to its nickname as a kissing bridge. This name came about because young lovers would pause for a moment to steal a kiss as they pass through the bridge.
Want to visit? From our county seat of McArthur, follow State Route 93 approximately 2.5 miles south of McArthur and Turn Left on St. Rt. 324. Follow St. Rt. 324 approximately 4.5 miles. At the stop sign, Turn Left onto St. Rt. 160 and follow less than 10 miles. At the stop sign, Turn Left onto St. Rt. 32 and follow to County Road 43B. Please note that There is more than one entrance to County Road 43B. You will look for the road that Turns Left. Once you Turn Left onto 43B, follow until you see the covered bridge and a road to the Right. Turn Right on that road and follow to pass through the bridge. When you leave, simply continue on this road to return to St. Rt. 32.
While in the area, head on down to Wilkesville to visit the Humpback Bridge and to see two Quilt Barns in that area. Why not pick up some lunch, take a camera and make a day of it?